Energy resolution and high count rate performance of superconducting I tunnel junction x-ray spectrometers

Matthias Frank, L. J. Hiller, J. B. Le Grand, C. A. Mears, S. E. Labov, M. A. Lindeman, H. Netel, D. Chow, A. T. Barfknecht

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68 Scopus citations


We present experimental results obtained with a cryogenically cooled, high-resolution x-ray spectrometer based on a 141 μm×141 Nb-Al-Al2O3-Al-Nb superconducting tunnel junction (STJ) detector in a demonstration experiment. Using monochromatized synchrotron radiation we studied the energy resolution of this energy-dispersive spectrometer for soft x rays with energies between 70 and 700 eV and investigated its performance at count rates up to nearly 60 000 cps. At count rates of several 100 cps we achieved an energy resolution of 5.9 eV (FWHM) and an electronic noise of 4.5 eV for 277 eV × rays (the energy corresponding to C K). Increasing the count rate, the resolution 277 eV remained below 10 eV for count rates up to ∼10 000 cps and then degraded to 13 eV at 23 000 cps and 20 eV at 50 000 cps. These results were achieved using a commercially available spectroscopy amplifier with a baseline restorer. No pile-up rejection was applied in these measurements. Our results show that STJ detectors can operate at count rates approaching those of semiconductor detectors while still providing a significantly better energy resolution for soft x rays. Thus STJ detectors may prove very useful in microanalysis, synchrotron x-ray fluorescence (XRF) applications, and XRF analysis of light elements (K lines) and transition elements (L lines).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-31
Number of pages7
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation


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