News - 03-Mar-2021

World-record in single-photon detection efficiency has been achieved by TUDelft team in Optica/Imphys (Editor’s Pick in APL Photonics)

Detecting light at its quantum limit -single photon-level has enabled and greatly benefited quantum information sciences, fluorescence imaging, Lidar (radar with light), and many other applications.

Since 2001, superconducting nanowire single photon detectors (SNSPDs) have become the new standard for detecting single-photons with simultaneously offering high detection efficiency and pico-second temporal resolution. Particularly at the telecom wavelength range (1260-1625 nm), near-unity efficiency SNSPDs are highly desired given the fast growing applications in quantum sciences, satellite  communication, and distant imaging technologies. Therefore, there have been an on-going world-competition for achieving near-unity efficiency SNSPDs at this wavelength range.

In 2013, a group of scientists in US (National Institute of Standard and Technology) reported SNSPDs with 93% detection efficiency. After 4 years, these results were reproduced by groups in China and Delft. Last year, two different groups in US and China independently improved this record to 98%. Those devices were all mounted in milli Kelvin dilution fridge and their time resolution was in the order of  60-120ps. Now, by using a novel membrane-based optical cavity and a gold reflector, researchers from the Optics Research Group, Dept. of Imaging Physics of the Faculty of Applied Sciences at the TU Delft, together with collaborators from Royal Institute of Technology (KTH, Sweden), and Single Quantum B.V. (Delft) have managed to bring this record to 99.5% together with a time resolution of sub-20 ps. This work imprints new world records both in efficiency and also with its combination with time resolution. In addition, the demonstrated devices are operated in a much simpler (and hence less costly) 2.5 Kelvin close-cycle GM cooler.

After peer-review, the work has been accepted and will soon appear on the latest issue of APL Photonics and it has also been selected as Editor’s pick and will appear in the main webpage of the journal.

The preprint version can be found here:

J. Chang, J. W. N. Los, J. O. Tenorio-Pearl, N. Noordzij, R. Gourgues, A. Guardiani, J. R. Zichi, S. F. Pereira, H. P. Urbach, V. Zwiller, S. N. Dorenbos, and I. Esmaeil Zadeh (2020).

Detecting Infrared Single Photons with Near-Unity System Detection Efficiency. arXiv preprint arXiv:2011.08941.

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