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Anomalous thermal behavior in microcalorimeter gamma-ray detectors



Robert D. Horansky, James A. Beall, Kent D. Irwin, Joel N. Ullom


Improving the resolution of gamma-ray detectors is important for many fields, including determinations of the Lamb shift in atoms with high atomic numbers , nuclear treaty verification , and environmental monitoring. High-purity germanium detectors are currently the tool of choice for precision gamma-ray spectroscopy. However, the resolution of these detectors is limited to about 500 eV full-width-at-half-maximum at 100 keV by Fano statistics . In comparison, low-temperature microcalorimeters can provide over an order of magnitude improvement in photon resolution. For instance, a gamma-ray microcalorimeter has achieved 25 eV FWHM resolution at 103 keV . These calorimeters are made up of two components, a bulk absorber to stop incident gamma rays and a thermometer made from a thin film electrically biased in the superconducting-to-normal phase transition, called a Transition Edge Sensor, or TES . The standard absorber is bulk, superconducting tin. While tin has historically been the best performing absorber, pulse decays in Sn devices are much slower than expected. We have begun a systematic study of absorber behavior in order to assess and improve response times. This study leverages two capabilities: the ability to microfabricate highly uniform arrays of gamma-ray detectors and the ability to read out signals from many detectors in a single cool-down to 0.1 K using SQUID multiplexer circuits. Here, we present two experiments to identify the source of thermal time constants. The first involves varying properties of the Sn absorber including purity, vendor, and crystal grain size. The second experiment examines the role of the other elements in the microcalorimeter assembly.
AIP Conference Proceedings


Microcalorimeter, absorber, gamma-ray spectroscopy


Horansky, R. , Beall, J. , Irwin, K. and Ullom, J. (2009), Anomalous thermal behavior in microcalorimeter gamma-ray detectors, AIP Conference Proceedings, [online], (Accessed July 21, 2024)


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Created July 20, 2009, Updated February 19, 2017