Superconducting Technology and the South Pole Telescope: Connecting Material Sciences with Cosmology
Advances in superconducting Transition Edge Sensors (TES) are enabling new measurements relevant for understanding the origins, composition, and evolution of the Universe. I will discuss how TES technology is opening new windows into cosmology through groundbreaking measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation with the South Pole Telescope (SPT), a 10-m mm-wave observatory at the geographic South Pole. In 2011, the SPT completed a 2500 sq deg survey using a TES bolometer focal plane. The unprecedented combination of sensitivity, area, and resolution of this survey enables an exciting program of cosmological measurement.
I will highlight some of the results from this survey. TES detectors are also the core technology for the SPTpol instrument, a CMB polarimeter recently deployed on the SPT in 2012. SPTpol is the first CMB instrument utilizing TES detectors developed and fabricated by ANL. I will provide an update on the performance of SPTpol and discuss its potential for measuring, for the first time, the elusive CMB "B-modes." I will also outline plans for SPT’s third generation TES-based focal plane, SPT-3G, for which ANL is leading the detector development. SPT-3G will be a transformational instrument capable of imaging the large scale distributions of Dark Matter, exploring the nature of Dark Energy, probing the era of Inflation, and informing our understanding of the neutrino mass hierarchy.