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Published February 1, 1997 | Published
Journal Article Open

Composite infrared bolometers with Si_3N_4 micromesh absorbers


We report the design and performance of 300-mK composite bolometers that use micromesh absorbers and support structures patterned from thin films of low-stress silicon nitride. The small geometrical filling factor of the micromesh absorber provides 20× reduction in heat capacity and cosmic ray cross section relative to a solid absorber with no loss in IR-absorption efficiency. The support structure is mechanically robust and has a thermal conductance, G < 2 × 10^(−11) W/K, which is four times smaller than previously achieved at 300 mK. The temperature rise of the bolometer is measured with a neutron transmutation doped germanium thermistor attached to the absorbing mesh. The dispersion in electrical and thermal parameters of a sample of 12 bolometers optimized for the Sunyaev–Zel'dovich Infrared Experiment is ±7% in R (T), ±5% in optical efficiency, and ±4% in G.

Additional Information

© 1997 Optical Society of America. Received 5 April 1996; revised manuscript received 23 July 1996. This research has been made possible by a grant from the Center of Space Microelectronics Technology to the Microdevices Laboratory at Jet Propulsion Laboratory to support the fabrication and development of the micromesh absorbers. The authors also thank P. L. Richards for many useful discussions, W. Holmes for the measurements of the thermal conductivity of silicon nitride, and D. Hebert and the staff at the microlab at University of California, Berkeley, for assistance in manufacturing the original micromesh bolometers. This research has been supported by a NASA Graduate Student Research Program grant to P. D. Mauskopf.

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