Operation of a Superconducting Nanowire in Two Detection Modes: KID and SPD

  • Edward SchroederEmail author
  • Philip Mauskopf
  • Hamdi Mani
  • Sean Bryan
  • Karl K. Berggren
  • Di Zhu


We present the performance of a superconducting nanowire that can be operated in two detection modes: (i) as a kinetic inductance detector (KID) or (ii) as a single-photon detector (SPD). Two superconducting nanowires developed for use as single-photon detectors (SNSPDs) are embedded as the inductive (L) component in resonant inductor/capacitor (LC) circuits coupled to a microwave transmission line. The capacitors are low loss commercial chip capacitors and limit the internal quality factor of the resonators to approximately \(Q_i = 170\). The resonator quality factor, \(Q_r \simeq 23\), is dominated by the coupling to the feedline and limits the detection bandwidth to on the order of 1 MHz. When operated in KID mode, the detectors are AC biased with tones at their resonant frequencies of 45.85 and 91.81 MHz. In the low-bias, standard KID mode, a single photon produces a hot spot that does not turn an entire section of the line normal but only increases the kinetic inductance. In the high-bias, critical KID mode, a photon event turns a section of the line normal and the resonance is destroyed until the normal region is dissipated. When operated as an SPD in Geiger mode, the resonators are DC biased through cryogenic bias tees and each photon produces a sharp voltage step followed by a ringdown signal at the resonant frequency of the detector which is converted to a standard pulse with an envelope detector. We show that AC biasing in the critical KID mode is inferior to the sensitivity achieved in DC-biased SPD mode due to the small fraction of time spent near the critical current with an AC bias.


Cryogenic Detector Nanowire Resonator KID SPD Superconducting 



This work is supported in part by NSF AST ATI Grant 1509078.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.School of Earth and Space ExplorationArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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