Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kent D Irwin

Second Advisor

Konrad W Lehnert

Third Advisor

Charles T Rogers


This thesis describes a multiplexer of Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices (SQUIDs) with low-noise, ultra-low power dissipation, and great scalability. The multiplexer circuit measures the magnetic flux in a large number of unshunted rf SQUIDs by coupling each SQUID to a superconducting microwave resonator tuned to a unique resonance frequency and driving the resonators from a common feedline. A superposition of microwave tones measures each SQUID simultaneously using only two coaxial cables between the cryogenic device and room temperature. This multiplexer will enable the instrumentation of arrays with hundreds of thousands of low-temperature detectors for new applications in cosmology, materials analysis, and nuclear non-proliferation.

The driving application of the Microwave SQUID Multiplexer is the readout of large arrays of superconducting transition-edge sensors, by some figures of merit the most sensitive detectors of electromagnetic signals over a span of more than nine orders of magnitude in energy, from 40 GHz microwaves to 200 keV gamma rays. Modern transition-edge sensors have noise-equivalent power as low as 10-20 W / [square root] Hz and energy resolution as good as 2 eV at 6 keV. These per-pixel sensitivities approach theoretical limits set by the underlying signals, motivating a rapid increase in pixel count to access new science. Compelling applications, like the non-destructive assay of nuclear material for treaty verification or the search for primordial gravity waves from inflation use arrays of these detectors to increase collection area or tile a focal plane.

We developed three generations of SQUID multiplexers, optimizing the first for flux noise (0.17 mu Phi0 / [square root] Hz) the second for input current noise (19 pA / [square root] Hz) and the last for practical multiplexing of large arrays of cosmic microwave background polarimeters based on transition-edge sensors. Using the last design we demonstrated multiplexed readout of prototype polarimeters with the performance required for the future development of a large-scale astronomical instrument.