Robert Bass

Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Electrical and Computer Engineering


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Physical Description

1 online resource (xii, 146 pages)


Cryotrons -- Design and construction, Cryotrons -- Testing, Antennas (Electronics) -- Dielectric resonators




Grid-scale integration of renewable energy sources and smart grid devices has created new demands in flexible power conversion. State-of-the-art semiconductor power switches present limitations in power handling capability, as well as forward and reverse breakdown voltages. Superconducting materials are a viable alternative due to their robustness against high ampacities, large electric fields and abrupt changes in power flow. This work pays focus to material testing and apparatus design for an antenna-coupled cryotron (ACC), which is a superconducting power switch.
Design, fabrication and testing are examined for a longitudinal resonant cavity, paired with monopole transmit and modified slot receive antennae. These couple radio frequency (RF) energy into superconducting thin film niobium (Nb) carrying high current densities (∼105A/cm2), thereby creating an antenna-coupled cryotron.
Induced electromagnetic field effects at the receive antenna alter superconductive fluid dynamics. The theorized quality in manipulating this mechanism is a rapid normal-conductivity transition (µs), which affects a switch "off" state. Functional evaluation of the device as a waveguide revealed evanescent mode resonance at frequencies below the waveguide cut-off of ∼18GHz. The thin film Nb was deposited on a quartz dielectric, which penetrated the waveguide and supported evanescent resonances within the structure.
Altered resistivity and critical transition-point properties emerged from device testing at applied RF. When the Nb film temperature-dependent coherence length was comparable to its thickness, perpendicular magnetic field application generated an Abrikosov vortex state, energetically favoring a mixed domain condensate. Interaction of the magnetically-induced flux vortex lattice with Lorentz current forces gave rise to resistive changes within the metal. Three resistive transition mechanisms developed: a latch to normal state resistance, attributed to cooper-pair destruction avalanche induced near critical transition points; a small reversible increase in resistance (∼mV), arising from flux-flow within an intermediate state at peak resonance; as well as temporal alterations in superfluid dynamics from disequilibrium in the quasi-particle population. The RF induced superfluid effects were observable in separate terms of electric and thermodynamic fluctuations.
Motivation for this work is the eventual design of a high voltage, high current and low cost power switch, able to function where existing semiconductor technology fails. Concentration is paid to the fundamental theory, physics and methodology in conceptual testing and design of prototype ACCs. Assessment focuses on preliminary findings and concludes with next stage design requirements.

Persistent Identifier