Superconducting Detectors for Astrophysics and Cosmology

Jonas Zmuidzinas

Date & Time

Thu, August 14, 2014


Where did Earth's water come from? Although we can't yet fully answer this question, a comet whose water has the same D/H ratio as the Earth's oceans has now been found. Water vapor from the dwarf planet Ceres has also been detected recently, boosting anticipation of the arrival of NASA's ion-propelled Dawn spacecraft at Ceres in February 2015. And on March 17, 2014, the BICEP2 team made international headlines with their announcement of evidence for gravitational waves produced during a sudden inflationary expansion of the universe when it was only 10^-35 seconds old. These three spectacular scientific discoveries are just a few examples of the impact that superconducting detectors are now making on the fields of cosmology, astrophysics, and planetary science. I will review the historical development of several types of superconducting detectors, discuss their role in major astronomy projects and the discoveries mentioned above, highlight the wide variety of superconducting phenomena exploited in these devices, indicate the impact on other fields, and close with some thoughts about future developments in this area.


Superconducting Detectors for Astrophysics and Cosmology - A Review