||The superconducting energy gap is a crucial parameter of a superconductor when used in mixing applications. In the case of the SIS mixer, the mixing process is efficient for frequencies below the energy gap, whereas, in the case of the HEB mixer, the mixing process is most efficient at frequencies above the gap, where photon absorption takes place more readily. We have investigated the photon absorption phenomenon around the gap frequency of HEB mixers based on NbN films deposited on silicon membranes. Apart from studying the pumped I-V curves of HEB devices, we have also probed them with microwave radiation, as previously described . At frequencies far below the gap frequency, the pumped I-V curves show abrupt switching between the superconducting and resistive states. For the NbN HEB mixers we tested, which have critical temperatures of ~9 K, this is true for frequencies below about 400 GHz. As the pump frequency is increased beyond 400 GHz, the resistive state extends towards zero bias and at some point a small region of negative differential resistance appears close to zero bias. In this region, the microwave probe reveals that the device impedance is changing randomly with time. As the pump frequency is further increased, this random impedance change develops into relaxation oscillations, which can be observed by the demodulation of the reflected microwave probe. Initially, these oscillations take the form of several frequencies grouped together under an envelope. As we approach the gap frequency, the multiple frequency relaxation oscillations coalesce into a single frequency of a few MHz. The resultant square-wave nature of the oscillation is a clear indication that the device is in a bi-stable state, switching between the superconducting and normal state. Above the gap frequency, it is possible to obtain a pumped I-V curve with no negative differential resistance above a threshold pumping level. Below this pumping level, the device demonstrates bi-stability, and regular relaxation oscillation at a few MHz is observed as a function of pump power. The threshold pumping level is clearly related to the amount of power absorbed by the device and its phonon cooling. From the above experiment, we can derive the gap frequency of the NbN film, which is 585 GHz for our 6 μm thin silicon membrane-based device. We also confirm that the HEB mixer is not an efficient photon absorber for radiation below the gap frequency. 1. A. Trifonov et al., “Probing the stability of HEB mixers with microwave injection”, IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond., vol. 25, no. 3, June 2015.