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Magnet Photo

High-resolution X-ray Microcalorimeters for Astrophysics and Solar Physics

Abstract: Over the past 30 years X-ray microcalorimeters utilizing various different sensor technologies have evolved with ever-improving energy resolution. At present we are able to use them to measure the energy of 6 keV X-rays to a precision of one part in 4000. This development will enable X-ray observatories capable of groundbreaking measurements of some of the hottest plasmas in the Universe such as galaxy clusters, supernova remnants and matter in the vicinity of supermassive black holes. It will also enable new studies of the fundamental plasma physics in the Sunís outer atmosphere. In this talk I will describe recent developments in performance and understanding of some of the leading X-ray microcalorimeter technologies including transition-edge sensors (TES) consisting of superconducting thin films electrically biased in the resistive transition and magnetically coupled calorimeters in which the same type of superconducting films can be biased within the phase transition magnetically. In particular, I will concentrate on the physical properties that currently limit the energy resolution performance. It has recently been shown that many important properties of TESs can be explained as due to the lateral proximity effect, and in terms of a weak link behavior. Some important implications of this behavior for microcalorimeter design and performance will be discussed.
Speaker: Simon Bandler - University of Maryland and NASA Goddard
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