Distributed Nanowire Sensor for Single Photon Imaging

Applications

  • Biological imaging
  • Quantum computing
  • Deep space communications

Problem Addressed

The development of a camera with single-photon sensitivity and sub-micrometer spatial resolution has applications in many scientific fields. Although superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors (SNSPDs) have superior performance to other discrete detectors, integrating multiple SNSPDs into an array for single-photon imaging is difficult, because of the complexity of signal processing and the cooling requirements of cryogenic designs.

Technology

The invention is a new architecture for a single superconducting nanowire, which uses hundreds of pixels to spatially resolve single photons. Using a simple readout method with only two radio frequency output lines and conventional room-temperature electronics, the design is a detector that is sensitive enough to detect a single photo with high quantum efficiency, low dark counts and low timing jitter. The resulting nanowire is easily shapeable for either a large active area for astronomical observation or sub-micrometer spatial resolution for near-field imaging. The number of distinguishable pixels is only limited by the total length of the nanowire and the timing accuracy for reading out the electrical pulses.

Advantages

  • High quantum efficiency, low dark counts, and low timing jitter single photon detector
  • Simple readout method requires only two radio frequency output lines and conventional room-temperature electronics
  • Nanowire easily shapeable for either a large active area for astronomical observation or sub-micrometer spatial resolution for near-field imaging