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A Very Wide Bandwidth SIS Heterodyne Receiver Design for Millimeter and Submillimeter Astronomy


Rice, Frank Randolph, III (2021) A Very Wide Bandwidth SIS Heterodyne Receiver Design for Millimeter and Submillimeter Astronomy. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/357d-6535.


This text describes in some detail the design and operational history of an instrument used as the front-end receiver for a fast, broadband, high-resolution spectrometer for the 1.3 millimeter wavelength atmospheric window. Using only a single superconductor-insulator-superconductor (SIS) tunnel junction as its heterodyne detector, the receiver’s novel design achieved then unprecedented RF and IF bandwidths and incorporated several innovations which have since been widely adopted within the millimeter and submillimeter wave research communities. Although intended as a relatively simple technology demonstrator and starting point for more refined and sophisticated designs, the receiver turned out to be a useful astronomical instrument in its own right, and it was deployed as a de facto facility instrument for several years at the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory. Also described are the author’s contributions to another important aid to research and design efforts: the SuperMix software library for the analysis and optimization of high-frequency circuitry, especially developed to aid in the design of systems involving SIS and other superconducting elements. Finally, the text may serve as a useful introduction to the theory behind and methodology for modeling and design of SIS heterodyne mixers.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Submillimeter SIS Heterodyne Instrumentation
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Zmuidzinas, Jonas
Thesis Committee:
  • Golwala, Sunil (chair)
  • Zmuidzinas, Jonas
  • Goldreich, Peter Martin
  • Refael, Gil
  • Bradford, Charles M.
Defense Date:26 August 2020
Non-Caltech Author Email:rice (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:09062020-111601302
Persistent URL:
Rice, Frank Randolph, III0000-0002-9845-9762
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:13947
Deposited By: Frank Rice
Deposited On:21 Sep 2020 15:43
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 18:53

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