Photon Absorption Near the Gap Frequency in a Hot Electron Bolometer
The superconducting energy gap is a fundamental characteristic of a superconducting film, which, together with the applied pump power and the biasing setup, defines the instantaneous resistive state of the Hot Electron Bolometer (HEB) mixer at any given bias point on the I-V curve. In this paper we report on a series of experiments, in which we subjected the HEB to radiation over a wide frequency range along with parallel microwave injection. We have observed three distinct regimes of operation of the HEB, depending on whether the radiation is above the gap frequency, far below it or close to it. These regimes are driven by the different patterns of photon absorption. The experiments have allowed us to derive the approximate gap frequency of the device under test as about 585 GHz. Microwave injection was used to probe the HEB impedance. Spontaneous switching between the superconducting (low resistive) state and a quasi-normal (high resistive) state was observed. The switching pattern depends on the particular regime of HEB operation and can assume a random pattern at pump frequencies below the gap to a regular relaxation oscillation running at a few MHz when pumped above the gap.