Terahertz spectrometers with a wide instantaneous frequency coverage for passive remote sensing are enormously attractive for many terahertz applications, such as astronomy, atmospheric science, and security. Here we demonstrate a wide-band terahertz spectrometer based on a single superconducting chip. The chip consists of an antenna coupled to a transmission line filterbank, with a microwave kinetic inductance detector behind each filter. Using frequency division multiplexing, all detectors are read-out simultaneously, creating a wide-band spectrometer with an instantaneous bandwidth of 45 GHz centered around 350 GHz. The spectrometer has a spectral resolution of F / ΔF = 380 and reaches photon-noise limited sensitivity. We discuss the chip design and fabrication, as well as the system integration and testing. We confirm full system operation by the detection of an emission line spectrum of methanol gas. The proposed concept allows for spectroscopic radiation detection over large bandwidths and resolutions up to F / ΔF ∼ 1000, all using a chip area of a few cm2. This will allow the construction of medium resolution imaging spectrometers with unprecedented speed and sensitivity.
An ultra-wideband, large field-of-view (sub)millimeter wave imaging spectrometer is imperative for uncovering the evolution of dust-enshrouded cosmic star formation rate, galaxy evolution, and structure formation, over cosmic time. Here we report the first on-sky demonstration of DESHIMA. DESHIMA (Deep Spectroscopic High-redshift Mapper) is a new type of submillimeter wave spectrometer, which uses a superconducting filterbank on a chip to achieve a very wide instantaneous bandwidth. Compared to an optical spectrometer with equivalent performance, such an on-chip spectrometer is not only compact, but also offers a higher degree of potential scalability to multiple spatial pixels. On the filterbank spectrometer chip of DESHIMA, the signal captured by the lens-antenna travels through a coplanar waveguide made of superconducting NbTiN, from which planar NbTiN bandpass filters branch out to divide the signal into frequency channels. At the output of each filter is a NbTiN/Al hybrid kinetic inductance detector (KID). These KIDs are operated at 120 mK with a 2-stage adiabatic demagnetization refrigerator (ADR), and their response is read out using the SpaceKIDs readout electronics. Being in its phase-1 configuration, DESHIMA currently covers the 330-370 GHz band with 49 spectral channels, offering a spectral resolution F/dF = 400, or dV = 700 km/s. This design is intended as a scalable prototype towards the phase-2 DESHIMA instrument, which targets at 240-720 GHz instantaneous band coverage with a resolution of F/dF = 500 (dV = 600 km/s), and >2 spatial pixels. In the laboratory, the sensitivity and frequency response of DESHIMA was characterized using a black-body calibration source and a THz photo-mixer source, respectively. The sensitivity is photon-noise limited at a detector loading power of ~1 pW, with a photon-noise limited optical Noise Equivalent Power of 1-2 x 10^-16 W Hz^-0.5. From October to November 2017, DESHIMA was installed on the Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE), a 10 m diameter antenna in the Atacama Desert of Chile. The sensitivity of DESHIMA measured inside the ASTE cabin is similar to lab results. At the time of submission of the abstract, DESHIMA has successfully detected multiple astronomical sources, in both continuum and line emission. At the conference we will report the lessons learned in the first actual operation of an on-chip filterbank spectrometer on a telescope, including the influence of thermal cycles on the filters, system susceptibility to telescope environment and motion, on-sky beam pattern, and sensitivity to continuum and line emission.
With increasing array size, it is increasingly important to control stray radiation inside the detector chips themselves. We demonstrate this effect with focal plane arrays of absorber coupled Lumped Element microwave Kinetic Inductance Detectors (LEKIDs) and lens-antenna coupled distributed quarter wavelength Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detectors (MKIDs). In these arrays the response from a point source at the pixel position is at a similar level to the stray response integrated over the entire chip area. For the antenna coupled arrays, we show that this effect can be suppressed by incorporating an on-chip stray light absorber. A similar method should be possible with the LEKID array, especially when they are lens coupled.
Distant, dusty and extremely luminous galaxies form a key component of the high redshift universe, tracing the period of intense cosmic activity that ultimately gave rise to the present-day universe. These highly luminous galaxies, first detected in the ground-based submillimeter region, are however optically very faint, which hampers identification of the optical counterpart and the measurement of a redshift. We are developing a new direct-detection submm spectrograph DESHIMA. By taking advantage of the rapidly advancing technology of superconducting microresonators, DESHIMA will revolutionize the appearance and capabilities of a submm spectrograph. There will no longer be large grating optics; instead DESHIMA will be equipped with a single chip, onto which the entire system of a dispersive filterbank and MKID sensor array is integrated. This chip will host 5000-10000 MKID sensors to instantaneously cover the entire submillimeter wave band (320-950 GHz) with a resolution of <i>f</i>/Δ<i>f</i> = 1000, further multiplied by 6-9 spatial pixels. With the broader bandwidth and higher detector sensitivity, DESHIMA will be very efficient compared to ALMA in picking up THz lines from submm galaxies with unknown redshifts. The expected outcome of this project is; 1) a record of the properties and evolution of distant luminous galaxies, 2) a powerful and compact multi-purpose spectrometer suitable for future ground base telescopes as well as satellite missions, and 3) the emergence of a new branch of observational astronomy based on flexible on-chip submillimeter optics.