Ultra-wideband, three-dimensional (3D) imaging spectrometry in the millimeter–submillimeter (mm–submm) band is an essential tool for uncovering the dust-enshrouded portion of the cosmic history of star formation and galaxy evolution1,2,3. However, it is challenging to scale up conventional coherent heterodyne receivers4 or free-space diffraction techniques5 to sufficient bandwidths (≥1 octave) and numbers of spatial pixels2,3 (>102). Here, we present the design and astronomical spectra of an intrinsically scalable, integrated superconducting spectrometer6, which covers 332–377 GHz with a spectral resolution of F/ΔF ~ 380. It combines the multiplexing advantage of microwave kinetic inductance detectors (MKIDs)7 with planar superconducting filters for dispersing the signal in a single, small superconducting integrated circuit. We demonstrate the two key applications for an instrument of this type: as an efficient redshift machine and as a fast multi-line spectral mapper of extended areas. The line detection sensitivity is in excellent agreement with the instrument design and laboratory performance, reaching the atmospheric foreground photon noise limit on-sky. The design can be scaled to bandwidths in excess of an octave, spectral resolution up to a few thousand and frequencies up to ~1.1 THz. The miniature chip footprint of a few cm2 allows for compact multi-pixel spectral imagers, which would enable spectroscopic direct imaging and large-volume spectroscopic surveys that are several orders of magnitude faster than what is currently possible1,2,3.
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The datasets generated and analysed during this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
The De:code software is distributed under the MIT license at https://github.com/deshima-dev/decode.
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We thank T. Kobiki, T. Ito, M. Yamada, M. Saito, J. Aguilera and J. Zenteno of NAOJ for their support at ASTE. We thank R. Jara, L. T. Galvéz and M. Konuma of NAOJ for their support in the transportation of the equipment to ASTE. We thank T. Minamidani for hosting a go/no-go review of the campaign, and all committee members who provided invaluable feedback. We thank K. Keizer of SRON for the precise mechanical work on the cryostat. We thank P. P. Kooijman and H. Hoevers of SRON for coordinating the delivery of the cryogenic hardware. We thank the staff of The University of Tokyo Atacama Observatory facility for their hospitality. We thank the staff of Kavli Nanolab Delft for their support in the microfabrication of the ISS chip. We thank the staff of Else Kooi Labratory for supporting the measurements in the cryolab at TU Delft. We thank D. Wernicke and J. Baumgartner of Entropy Cryogenics for their support in operating the cryostat at ASTE. Finally, we thank J. Pinto for his kindness to donate a piece of copper wire with a diameter in the range of 1.00–1.05 mm from his jewellery shop in San Pedro de Atacama so that we could align the cryogenic thermal mechanical structure on site. This research was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research NWO (Vidi grant no. 639.042.423, NWO Medium Investment grant no. 614.061.611 DESHIMA), the European Research Council ERC (ERC-CoG-2014 - Proposal no. 648135 MOSAIC), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science JSPS (KAKENHI grant nos. JP25247019 and JP17H06130), NAOJ ALMA Scientific Research grant no. 2018-09B, and the Grant for Joint Research Program of the Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University. P.J.d.V. is supported by the NWO (Veni Grant 639.041.750). T.M.K. is supported by the ERC Advanced grant no. 339306 (METIQUM) and the Russian Science Foundation (grant no. 17-72-30036). N.L. is supported by ERC (Starting Grant no. 639749). J.S. and M.N. are supported by the JSPS Program for Advancing Strategic International Networks to Accelerate the Circulation of Talented Researchers (Program no. R2804). T.J.L.C.B. was supported by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013, FP7/2007–2011) under grant agreement no. 607254. The ASTE telescope is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ).
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information: Nature Astronomy thanks Ted Huang, Omid Noroozian and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Supplementary Figs. 1 and 2, and text.