(SIngle Microwave Photon detection / 2019-2021)


New technologies and skills are needed to face future challenges of fundamental physics, ranging from understanding the nature of Dark Matter to fundamental problems of Quantum Field Theory. The low-mass frontier of Dark Matter, the measurement of the neutrino mass, the search for new light bosons in laboratory experiments, all require detectors sensitive to excitations of meV or smaller. Faint and rare signals, such as those produced by vacuum photoemission or by an Axion in a magnetic field, could be efficiently detected only by a new class of sensors. This project objective is the development of SIngle Microwave Photon (SIMP) sensors to strenghten INFN skills and technologies for facing these challenges. Since 1990 an increasing number of papers were published on single photon detectors driven by reasearch in Quantum Information. The combination of nanofabrication and superconductivity led to the constructions of new devices sensitive to single electrons or microwave photons. Research institutes around the world, including many Italian institutes, have state-of-the-art infrastructure for nanofabrication and experience in the field of radiation sensors. The SIMP Project, born from the collaboration among researchers of INFN, CNR, FBK and INRIM, proposes two solutions for photodetectors:

1.Current Biased Josephson Junction (10-50 GHz)

2.Transition Edge Sensor (30-100GHz)

During the three-years project, the devices will be fabricated and tested to prove their ability to count single microwave photons. Two phases are foreseen: in the first phase, existing solutions in literature or recent results will be adopted, minimizing the R&D, to implement functioning devices with moderate performance; in the second phase, based on the accumulated experience, new solutions will be explored to achieve higher sensitivities and better performance.