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Title: A millimeter unilateral finline SIS mixer with a wide IF bandwidth
Author: Zhou, Yangjun
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Superconductor-Insulator-Superconductor (SIS) tunnel junction mixers are now commonly used in astronomical receivers at (sub)millimeter wavelengths because of their superb sensitivity, high dynamic range and stability of operation. Niobium SIS mixers operating at frequencies well below the super- conducting gap (∼680 GHz) have already achieved quantum limited sensitivity. Therefore to further enhance the receiver sensitivity, increasing the Intermediate Frequency (IF) bandwidth of SIS mixers has became crucial. This thesis focuses on the theoretical modeling, design and experimental verifi- cation of Nb SIS mixers operating around 230 GHz with a wide IF bandwidth of 1–15 GHz. These mixers were designed for a single baseline heterodyne interferometer (GUBBINS), which is being built to observe the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect in the Cosmic Microwave Background. The combination of wide IF bandwidth SIS mixers and complex analogue correlators will allow GUBBINS to feature high surface brightness sensitivity, that helps to distinguish the weak SZ effect from the background noise. The SIS mixer detector system was assembled inside the GUBBINS cryostat together with the IF electronics and RF/LO optical systems. Low noise temperatures of around 71 K were then measured in the GUBBINS system. The Nb SIS mixer we have developed uses a unilateral finline and fully integrated planar circuits deposited on a silicon substrate, to couple the electromagnetic radiation from the waveguide into the SIS junction. The finline mixer allows a broad-band RF coupling, an easy integration of the on-chip planar circuits and an easy-to-fabricate mixer block. To achieve a wide IF bandwidth, the output impedance of the SIS mixer was well matched to the input impedance of the amplifier by a multi-stage microstrip circuit. Additionally, the planar circuit of the SIS mixer was also designed to have a small lumped inductance and capacitance. The SIS mixer chip was extensively simulated by rigorous electromagnetic software (HFSS) and the S-parameter was exported to a quantum mixing package SuperMix to produce a full-wave model of the mixer. Experimental testing yielded a best noise temperature of 50 K with an average noise temperature of 75 K over an RF bandwidth of 160 GHz– 260 GHz. We have performed thorough experimental and computational investigation of the IF system in particular the constraints on the bandwidth caused by the lumped element capacitance of the mixer chip and the matching of the output impedance of the mixer to the IF amplifier. Our conclusion is that a bandwidth of 1–15 GHz could be achieved using our mixer design, subject to the performance of the amplifier. Finally, a variable temperature load system was successfully developed and tested inside the cryostat, to avoid the losses from the room-temperature optics. We have showed that the noise temperature of the SIS detector could be reduced by as much as 15 K by testing the mixer using a variable temperature load inside the cryostat.
Supervisor: Yassin, Ghassan Sponsor: Chinese Ministry of Education ; University of Oxford ; Merton College, University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Astrophysics ; SIS tunnel junction ; SIS mixer