Apr 10, 2012
Major topical review highlights infrared single-photon detectors based on superconducting nanowires
Single-photon detectors based on superconducting nanowires (SSPDs or SNSPDs) have emerged over the past decade as a highly promising infrared photon counting technology. Counting single quanta of light – single photons – in the infrared wavelength range (corresponding to energies of ~1 eV or less) is notoriously difficult. These superconducting devices offer high efficiency, low dark counts and excellent timing resolution; outperforming conventional photon counting technologies such as photomultipliers and semiconductor avalanche photodiodes. Applications span quantum cryptography, fault testing in integrated circuits and atmospheric remote sensing. This month, the journal Superconductor Science and Technology has published the first major topical review on this technology (available via open access).
In the work, Chandra Mouli Natarajan, Mike Tanner and Robert Hadfield from Heriot-Watt University, UK, survey advances made by research groups around the world in this technology. The first part of the review concerns the basic SNSPD operating principle, the evolution of device design and origins of noise mechanisms. Next, practical refrigeration technologies and optical coupling schemes for SNSPDs are discussed. The article concludes with a comprehensive survey of promising application areas.
This review is an indispensible resource for newcomers and experts in the field, as well as end users. It captures a detailed snapshot of an emerging superconducting detector technology on the threshold of maturity.
To read the topical review in full, visit - iopscience.iop.org/0953-2048/25/6/063001
About the author
Dr Robert Hadfield is a reader in physics and a Royal Society University Research Fellow at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK, where he leads the Superconducing single photon detectors research group.