NbN Hot-Electron-Bolometer Mixer for Operation in the Near-IR Frequency Range
Traditionally, hot-electron-bolometer (HEB) mixers are employed for THz and “super-THz” heterodyne detection. To explore the near-IR spectral range, we propose a fiber-coupled NbN film based HEB mixer. To enhance the incident-light absorption, a quasi-antenna consisting of a set of parallel stripes of gold is used. To study the antenna effect on the mixer performance, we have experimentally studied a set of devices with different size of the Au stripe and spacing between the neighboring stripes. With use of the well-known isotherm technique we have estimated the absorption efficiency of the mixer, and the maximum efficiency has been observed for devices with the smallest pitch of the alternating NbN and NbN-Au stripes. Also, a proper alignment of the incident E⃗-field with respect to the stripes allows us to improve the coupling further. Studying IV-characteristics of the mixer under differently-aligned E⃗-field of the incident radiation, we have noticed a difference in their shape. This observation suggests that a difference exists in the way the two waves with orthogonal polarizations parallel and perpendicular E⃗-field to the stripes heat the electrons in the HEB mixer. The latter results in a variation in the electron temperature distribution over the HEB device irradiated by the two waves.