Radioactivity induced dark count rate for single near-infrared photon detection with a tungsten transition edge sensor at 80 mK

N. Bastidon, D. Horns

Submitted on 29 June 2022


The intrinsic background count rate of tungsten superconducting transition-edge sensors (TES) is low, and the calorimeters using these sensors can resolve the energy of single photons. These facts make the sensors particularly interesting for the background-limited searches of new processes and particles. In this contribution, the intrinsic background of a tungsten TES has been investigated. After excluding other sources (e.g., cosmic muons, thermal background) relevant for the observed background rate of 104~s1 for the detection of photons with a wave length of 1064 nm, we investigate the impact of natural radioactivity. Dedicated measurements using gamma-emitters mounted outside the cryostat have been used to estimate the sensitivity of the TES setup for ionizing radiation. We have found that indeed an increased background can be observed in the presence of the radioactive sources. After selecting events which populate our signal region tuned for single photon detection at near-infrared, roughly 0.5% of the events produced by gamma-rays appear indistinguishable from those due to single photons with 1064~nm wave length. This ratio is consistent with that observed for the residual background detected with the TES at a rate of 104~s1. From this, we conclude that the bulk of the observed background count-rate in the signal region can be explained by natural radioactivity.


Comment: Original contribution to a special edition of Superconductor Science and technology in 2017. Manuscript made available here upon request

Subjects: Physics - Instrumentation and Detectors; Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics