February 26, 2024

Superconducting Nanowire Photon Detector Could Enable High-Speed Quantum Communication

Sending information at faster speeds requires a single photon detector that can not only find photons rapidly however also precisely measure their arrival times.
” Although there are detectors that can determine photon arrival times with high accuracy they struggle to keep up when the photons are showing up in fast succession and can miss some of the photons or get their arrival times wrong,” stated Craiciu. “We developed the PEACOQ detector to specifically measure the arrival times of single photons even as they are striking the detector at a high rate. They utilized a customized testing setup to send out light into the cryostat to the detector and a chain of electronics to transmit the detectors output signal out of the cryostat, enhance it and tape it. The scientists are still working to make enhancements to the PEACOQ detector, which is currently about 80% effective– implying 20% of photons that hit the detector are not determined.

” Our brand-new detector is made from 32 niobium nitride superconducting nanowires on a silicon chip, which makes it possible for high count rates with high accuracy,” stated research study employee Ioana Craiciu, a postdoctoral scholar. “The detector was developed with quantum interaction in mind, as this is a technological area that has been restricted by the efficiency of available detectors.”
Matthew Shaw, leader of the research study team, inspects a PEACOQ detector installed inside a cryostat for screening. Credit: Ryan Lannom, JPL-Caltech/NASA
The detector was established as part of a NASA program to make it possible for brand-new innovation for space-to-ground quantum interaction, which can permit sharing of quantum details throughout intercontinental ranges in the future. This work builds upon technology established for the NASA Deep Space Optical Communication job, which will be the first presentation of free-space optical communication from interplanetary space.
” There is not currently another detector that can count single photons this rapidly with the very same timing resolution,” said Craiciu. “We know this detector will work for quantum communication, but we likewise hope that it might enable other applications that we havent considered.”
Faster quantum communication
Accelerating quantum interaction transmission rates requires a detector on the receiving end that can make quick measurements and shows a short dead time so that it can compete with a high rate of arriving photons. The detector should also precisely determine the arrival time of the photons.
” Although there are detectors that can measure photon arrival times with high precision they struggle to maintain when the photons are getting here in fast succession and can miss a few of the photons or get their arrival times wrong,” said Craiciu. “We created the PEACOQ detector to precisely determine the arrival times of single photons even as they are hitting the detector at a high rate. It is also efficient– it does not miss many of the photons.”
The PEACOQ detector is made of nanowires simply 7.5 nm thick, or about 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. A computer system along with a time-to-digital converter is used to record when the resistance changed and hence when a photon arrived at the detector.
” When the detector determines a photon, it outputs an electric pulse, and the time-to-digital converter determines the arrival time of this electrical pulse really precisely, with a resolution listed below 100 picoseconds or 70 million times faster than a breeze of the fingers,” said Craiciu. “We established a brand-new time-to-digital converter that can determine up to 128 channels at the same time with this timing resolution, which is important due to the fact that our detector requires 32 channels.”
To show the brand-new detector, the scientists cooled it down to 1 Kelvin by installing it in a cryostat. They utilized a custom-built testing setup to send light into the cryostat to the detector and a chain of electronic devices to transfer the detectors output signal out of the cryostat, magnify it and record it. Due to the fact that there are 32 nanowires, the scientists had to utilize 32 sets of each element, including 32 cables and 32 of each type of amplifier.
Extraordinary count rates
” We were very pleased with how well the detector worked,” said Craiciu. “The rate at which it can measure photons was the highest we have actually seen. It needs an intricate setup since each of the 32 nanowires reads out individually, but for applications where you truly need to determine photons at a high rate with high accuracy, it is worth the trouble.”
Typically, quantum information being transferred is set to a clock, with each piece of info encoded into one photon and sent out on a tick. How precisely you can measure the arrival time of the photons at the receiver identifies how close together the ticks can be without making a mistake, and therefore it figures out how quickly you can send out the info. The new detector makes it practical to carry out quantum interaction with a modern clock frequency of 10-GHz.
The scientists are still working to make improvements to the PEACOQ detector, which is currently about 80% effective– suggesting 20% of photons that struck the detector are not determined. They likewise prepare to build a portable receiver unit that can be used for quantum interaction experiments. It will consist of a number of PEACOQ detectors along with optics, readout electronic devices and a cryostat.
Reference: “High-speed detection of 1550 nm single photons with superconducting nanowire detectors” by I. Craiciu, B. Korzh, A. D. Beyer, A. Mueller, J. P. Allmaras, L. Narvaez, M. Spiropulu, B. Bumble, T. Lehner, E. E. Wollman and M. D. Shaw, 2023, Optica.DOI: 10.1364/ OPTICA.478960.

The brand-new detector is made from 32 niobium nitride superconducting nanowires on a silicon chip, which allows high count rates with high accuracy. Credit: Ryan Lannom, JPL-Caltech/NASA
Scientists use a superconducting nanowire style for exact and quick photon counting.
Researchers have actually established a new detector that can specifically determine single photons at really high rates. The brand-new gadget could help make high-speed quantum communication practical.
Quantum communication uses light at the single photon level to send out encoded quantum details such as file encryption secrets in quantum crucial circulation. Data transferred in this method is ensured to stay safe because of the laws of physics. Sending out info at faster speeds needs a single photon detector that can not just find photons quickly but also specifically determine their arrival times.
In Optica, Optica Publishing Groups journal for high-impact research study, scientists led by Matthew D. Shaw at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory describe and show their new detector for measuring the arrival times of photons, which they call PEACOQ (performance-enhanced array for counting optical quanta) detector.