Educational Activities

ASC-2014 SQUIDs 50th Anniversary: 6 of 6 - Kent Irwin - SQUIDs as detectors for cosmology

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SQUIDs and superconducting detectors are now widely deployed in cosmic microwave background (CMB) telescopes, which has led to a dramatic improvement in the sensitivity of CMB measurements. The BICEP-2 experiment at the South Pole recently reported the most sensitive measurement to date of the polarization of the CMB, and the first detection of a curl, or "B-mode" pattern in the polarization of the CMB at degree angular scales. Primordial B-mode polarization is the distinctive signature of gravitational waves from inflation at the energy scale of Grand Unification, but additional non-primordial sources of B-mode polarization also exist, including polarized dust and gravitational lensing. I will describe the role of SQUIDs and superconducting detectors in reaching this important milestone, and their use in efforts to further understand B-mode signals in the CMB. Constraints on both primordial and gravitational-lensing B-mode signals will play an increasingly important role in our understanding of inflation, the properties of neutrinos, and the fundamental physics of the universe.