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Oct 15 2021

Superconducting Quantum Sensors at the Advanced Photon Source

ECE 595 Department Seminar Series

October 15, 2021

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM


Lecture Center D1


804 S. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60607

Superconducting Quantum Sensors at the Advanced Photon Source

Presenter: Orlando Quaranta, Argonne National Laboratory

Abstract: Superconducting detectors have seen an increasingly widespread usage during the years, spanning from astronomy to telecommunication, medical science, security, and synchrotron science. This is thanks to their high sensitivity and low noise granted by the unique characteristics of superconducting materials and the extremally low thermal noise condition typical of the cryogenic environments in which these operate.

In a superconductor the absorption of a particle or a photon leads to the breaking of Cooper pairs and the creation of excess quasi-particles and phonons. Under certain conditions this can produce a transition from the superconducting state to the normal state, which can be detected in several ways. The Detectors Group of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory works of two types of superconducting detectors: Superconducting Nanowire Single Photon Detectors, or SNSPDs, and Transition Edge Sensors, TESs.

An SNSPD consists of a thin and narrow superconducting nanowire and is sensitive to single photons from x-ray to mid-infrared wavelengths. SNSPDs have attracted a lot of attention as promising single photon detectors, since they offer high sensitivity, low dark count rate, high counting rate, and short timing jitter. These characteristics make them ideal candidates for photonics experiments, quantum key distribution and remote sensing.

A TES is a calorimeter that utilizes the steep superconducting to normal transition of a superconducting film close to the critical temperature (Tc) to measure the energy of incident particles or radiation with extremely high resolution. Depending on its design, a TES can be used to efficiently detect x-rays, gamma rays, THz waves, or single photons from visible to near infrared wavelengths. Such flexibility brought them to be used in a large variety of experiments, from astronomy to photonics, nuclear science, and X-ray science.
The Detectors Group is interested in developing instruments based on these sensors to leverage their excellent performances to enable new science and new diagnostic tools at the Advanced Photon Source.

Speaker bio: Quaranta received his MS (2005) and PhD (2009) in physics from the University of Salerno, Italy. After graduation he worked at several international research institutions including C.N.R.-Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa (Italy), Argonne National Laboratory (USA), University of Cambridge (UK), and National Institute of Standards and Technology (USA). During his career he has worked on the development of various superconducting devices: Superconducting Nanowire Single Photon Detectors, Tunnel Junctions, Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detectors and more recently Transition Edge Sensors. In 2016 he joined the Detectors Groups of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory as a physicist. Since 2020, he has also served as a UChicago CASE senior scientist at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. The focus of his research in recent years has been the development of instruments based on superconducting sensors for synchrotron science.

Faculty host: Daniela Tuninetti (


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Date posted

Oct 15, 2021

Date updated

Oct 15, 2021