• Radiation detectors;
  • Superconducting tunnel junctions;
  • Superconducting thin films


In order to achieve a high resolution in the spectroscopy of low energy X-rays, detectors based on superconducting tunnel junctions as sensors are presently investigated. The knowledge of the processes affecting the signal generation in such sensors is essential for the interpretation of the detector response. Starting from a diffusion model including decay and tunneling of excess quasiparticles in the metal layers of a superconducting tunnel junction detector, the detector response is determined as a function of absorption position and of rate constants. Model predictions agree very well with experimental data. The advantages of a detector employing quasiparticle trapping are pointed out and the parameters determining the signal gain are deduced. The linearity of the detector signal is much more affected by pair recombination of the quasiparticles during their tunneling rather than during their diffusive propagation into the tunneling region.