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Title: Nonequilibrium behaviour and quasiparticle heating in thin film superconducting microwave resonators
Author: Guruswamy, Tejas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 9509
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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In this thesis I describe work on developing theoretical and numerical models of supercon- ducting thin-film microwave resonators. Superconducting resonators are used in a variety of applications, one of which is as kinetic inductance detectors (KIDs). KIDs are ultra-low noise, highly sensitive, multiplexable detectors, with uses in a wide variety of fields including astrophysics, medical imaging, and particle physics. Resonators are also crucial for supercon- ducting qubit readout, superconducting mixers and parametric amplifiers, and as multiplexers for other devices. The results described in this thesis apply to all thin film resonators, but are primarily described in the context of KIDs. I develop models of how constant absorbed power affects superconducting thin films, driving them out of thermal equilibrium with the bath. Using the Chang & Scalapino equations, I calculate numerically the steady-state quasiparticle and phonon distributions for various sources of power (sub-gap and above-gap photons and phonons, single frequency and broadband). Many new results emerge, a few of which are: the quasiparticle heating effects of microwave power, explaining the experimentally measured saturation of resonator performance; the frequency dependence of the quasiparticle generation efficiency in the sub-mm wavelength range; and the importance of phonon trapping in thin films at low temperatures. I then use these nonequilibrium results in higher-level device models. Starting from a generic framework for resonators, I present and implement a model of a KID with variable thermal isolation. I calculate the effects of quasiparticle heating on both the large-signal and small-signal behaviour, highlighting the effects of electrothermal feedback caused by readout power. Electrothermal feedback is shown to be able to increase or decrease the magnitude and bandwidth of the responsivity and noise, depending on the operating point. Finally, I propose an experimental measurement of quasiparticle heating effects in a new device – a four-port ring resonator. In such a device, unlike in the standard two-port resonator, the device can be heated and read out independently. I develop detailed models for the thermal and electrical behaviour of these devices, and suggest a scheme by which the quasiparticle heating effects of microwave power, predicted in this thesis, can be measured.
Supervisor: Withington, Stafford Sponsor: Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: physics ; kinetic inductance detectors ; microwave resonator ; superconductor