Electrothermal feedback in kinetic inductance detectors
In kinetic inductance detectors (KIDs) and other similar applications of superconducting microresonators, both the large and small-signal behaviour of the device may be affected by electrothermal feedback. Microwave power applied to read out the device is absorbed by and heats the superconductor quasiparticles, changing the superconductor conductivity and hence the readout power absorbed in a positive or negative feedback loop. In this work, we explore numerically the implications of an extensible theoretical model of a generic superconducting microresonator device for a typical KID, incorporating recent work on the power flow between superconductor quasiparticles and phonons. This model calculates the large-signal (changes in operating point) and small-signal behaviour of a device, allowing us to determine the effect of electrothermal feedback on device responsivity and noise characteristics under various operating conditions. We also investigate how thermally isolating the device from the bath, for example by designing the device on a membrane only connected to the bulk substrate by thin legs, affects device performance. We find that at a typical device operating point, positive electrothermal feedback reduces the effective thermal conductance from the superconductor quasiparticles to the bath, and so increases responsivity to signal (pair-breaking) power, increases noise from temperature fluctuations, and decreases the noise equivalent power (NEP). Similarly, increasing the thermal isolation of the device while keeping the quasiparticle temperature constant decreases the NEP, but also decreases the device response bandwidth.