Tag Archives: Josephson-effect

Terahertz Electronics – Way To Bridge The largely-untapped Region Between 100GHz and 10THz

The terahertz (THz) region, which is based on 1THz frequency, separates electronics from photonics and has been difficult to access for ages. Semiconductor electronics cannot handle frequencies equal to or greater than 100GHz due to various transport-time related limitations. In other hand, photonics devices fail to work below 10THz as photon’s energy significantly drops to thermal energy. Terahertz Electronics (TE) is a new technology that extends the range of electronics into the THz-frequency region.

The Terahertz Gap
The Terahertz Gap

The main goal of Terahertz Electronics is to build a bridge between low-frequency “Electronics” and high-frequency “Photonics”. Since these devices use photon-electron particle interactions, as photon energy “hv” decreases below thermal energy “kT”, the device ceases to operate efficiently unless it is cooled down. At the low-frequency end, electronics cannot operate above 100GHz as transport time is dependent on drift and diffusion speeds of electrons/holes. As a result, a large region between 100GHz and 10THz remained inaccessible. Terahertz Electronics solves this problem efficiently by cleverly incorporating electronics with photonics.

Terahertz electronics technology offers practical applications in high-speed data transfer, THz imaging, and highly-integrated radar and communication systems. Surprisingly enough, It does not use semiconductors. Instead, it is based on metal-insulator tunneling structures to form diodes for detectors and ultra-high-speed transistors for oscillator based transmitters.

One drawback of the Terahertz Electronics is, it requires high-frequency radiation sources. Lack of a small, low-cost, moderate-power THz source is one of the main reasons that THz applications have not fully materialized yet. Scientists are trying to find a solution to this problem. They created a compact device that can lead to portable, battery-operated sources of THz radiation. This new solid-state T-ray source uses high-temperature superconducting crystals that contain stacks of Josephson junctions. So, even a small voltage, around two millivolts per junction, can induce frequencies in the THz range.

Mercury arc lamps generate light in terahertz
Mercury arc lamps generate light in terahertz

TE devices are extremely fast and they are made entirely of thin-film materials—metals and insulator. Hence, it is possible to fabricate Terahertz Electronics devices on top of complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) circuitry—a technology for creating integrated-circuits circuitry or on an extensive variety of substrate materials. In TE devices, charge transport through the junction occurs via electron tunneling. Further research and development will make Terahertz Electronics a reality in not-so-distant future.

On-Chip Microwave Laser

Lasers are everywhere these days: at the checkout in the supermarket, in the CD player in the lounge – and quantum researchers need them to test qubits in the (future) quantum computers. For most applications, today’s large, inefficient lasers are a perfectly adequate solution, but quantum systems operate on a very small scale and at extremely low temperatures. Researchers, for the past 40 years, have been trying to develop accurate and efficient microwave lasers that will not disturb the ultra-cold and fragile quantum experiments. A team of researchers from the Dutch Technical University Delft have now developed an on-chip laser, which is based on the Josephson-effect. The resulting microwave laser opens the door to applications where microwave radiation with a low loss is essential. An important example is the control of qubits in a scalable quantum computer.

Lasers emit coherent light: the line width (the color spectrum) can be very narrow. A typical laser comprises a large number of emitters (atoms, molecules or charge carriers in semiconductors) in a oscillator cavity. These conventional lasers are generally inefficient and generate much heat. This makes them a challenge to use in low-temperature applications, such as quantum technologies.

The researchers constructed a single Josephson junction in an extremely small superconducting oscillator cavity. Here, the Josephson junction behaves like a single atom, while the micro cavity behaves like a pair of mirrors for microwave light: the result is a microwave laser on a chip. By cooling the chip down to ultra-low temperatures (less than 1 kelvin) a coherent beam of microwave light is generated at the output of the oscillator cavity. The on-chip laser is extremely efficient: it requires less than one picowatt to produce laser radiation.

The research paper can be read here.

Source: Elektor