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Microbolometers

Project researchers

The MEMS group has a long lasting experience in process development and microstructure design also in the field of microbolometers for basic science applications. The main research activity performed in this context in the last years was the development of Kinetic Inductance Detectors (KIDs). They are superconducting cryogenic detectors in which radiation detection is achieved by measuring small changes caused by photon absorption in the surface impedance of a superconducting strip metal incorporated in a high Q resonant circuit. The extremely low loss characteristic of superconductors makes these detectors extremely sensitive and, as a consequence of the high Q value, intrinsically multiplexable in the frequency domain, so that they can be easily implemented into large format arrays. A great advantage in using KID is that the fabrication process is straightforward, consisting in the simplest configuration of one single step of metal deposition and etching, guaranteeing a high yield a very low cost per pixel. Furthermore there is great flexibility in the choice of the materials and the geometries that can be used, so these detectors are very flexible and can be tuned to satisfy many different scientific needs. In developing KIDs FBK can be competitive by providing a technological approach that is more manufacturing oriented but at the same time keeps enough flexibility to accommodate the needs of the specific applications. With respect to more research oriented institutions we can provide a better technology control. In addition we have capabilities in cryogenic characterization which are useful in the development phase as they allow us to  perform the more technology oriented characterizations and provide the final user with already selected and measured samples.

Application cases: 

Specific applications are determined by the partners and interested players: INFN, the University of Rome Sapienza and the University of Milano Bicocca.

  • In collaboration with INFN and Sapienza we have worked on the development of an ideal  Microwave KID array in the band of the electromagnetic spectrum ranging from 0.1to 1 THz, which is the last one where the sky emission is poorly known. Yet at the same time it is a band of great cosmologic interest, in which for example the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation can be observed.
  • In 2011 we started a new activity within the Milano Bicocca. The purpose of the project is to develop athermal detectors for the electron-capture decay endpoint measurement of the neutrino mass using Holmium as source material. The project includes also the investigation of superconducting properties of high-Z nitride materials such as Titanium Nitride.
  • Research topics: