Thermometer for itinerant photons

Image credit: [Claudia Castillo Moreno]


The ability to control and measure the temperature of propagating microwave modes down to very low temperatures is indispensable for quantum information processing and may open opportunities for studies of heat transport at the nanoscale, also in the quantum regime. Here, we propose and experimentally demonstrate primary thermometry of propagating microwaves using a transmon-type superconducting circuit. Our device operates continuously, with a sensitivity down to 4×10−4 photons/√Hz and a bandwidth of 40 MHz. We measure the thermal occupation of the modes of a highly attenuated coaxial cable in a range of 0.001 to 0.4 thermal photons, corresponding to a temperature range from 35 mK to 210 mK at a frequency around 5 GHz. To increase the radiation temperature in a controlled fashion, we either inject calibrated, wideband digital noise, or heat the device and its environment. This thermometry scheme can find applications in benchmarking and characterization of cryogenic microwave setups, temperature measurements in hybrid quantum systems, and quantum thermodynamics.

In Physical Review X
Marco Scigliuzzo
Marco Scigliuzzo
Post doc in Quantum Optics

My research interests include light-matter interaction in structured waveguides and quantum acoustic with superconducting circuits.