We consider a voltage-biased normal metal-insulator-superconductor (NIS) tunnel junction, connected to a high-temperature external electromagnetic environment. This model system features the commonly observed subgap leakage current in NIS junctions through photon-assisted tunneling which is detrimental for applications. We first consider a NIS junction directly coupled to the environment and analyze the subgap leakage current both analytically and numerically; we discuss the link with the phenomenological Dynes parameter. Then, we focus on a circuit where a low-temperature lossy transmission line is inserted between the NIS junction and the environment. We show that the amplitude of the transmitted frequencies relevant for the photon-assisted tunneling is exponentially suppressed as the length ℓ and the resistance per unit length R0 of the line are increased. Consequently, the subgap current is reduced exponentially as well. This property can not be obtained by means of lumped circuit elements. We finally discuss our results in view of the performance of NIS junctions in applications.
- SINGLE-ELECTRON TRANSISTOR