Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > NIST Detector Counts Photons With 99 Percent Efficiency

NIST physicist Sae Woo Nam works with refrigeration equipment used to cool photon detectors to nearly absolute zero. His team’s efforts have created devices that can detect single photons with 99 percent efficiency. Credit: NIST
NIST physicist Sae Woo Nam works with refrigeration equipment used to cool photon detectors to nearly absolute zero. His team’s efforts have created devices that can detect single photons with 99 percent efficiency. Credit: NIST

Abstract:
Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed* the world's most efficient single photon detector, which is able to count individual particles of light traveling through fiber optic cables with roughly 99 percent efficiency. The team's efforts could bring improvements to secure electronic communication, advanced quantum computation and the measurement of optical power.

NIST Detector Counts Photons With 99 Percent Efficiency

Gaithersburg, MD | Posted on April 17th, 2010

Using essentially the same technology that permitted them to achieve 88 percent detection efficiency five years ago,** the team has enhanced its ability to detect photons largely by improving the alignment of the detector and the optical fibers that guide photons into it. The basic principle of the detector is to use a superconductor as an ultra-sensitive thermometer. Each individual photon hitting the detector raises the temperature—and increases electrical resistance—by a minute amount, which the instrument registers as the presence of a photon.

According to team member Sae Woo Nam, the advantage of this type of single photon detector is that the new detector design not only measures lower levels of light than have ever been possible, but does so with great accuracy.

"When these detectors indicate they've spotted a photon, they're trustworthy. They don't give false positives," says Nam, a physicist with NIST's Optoelectronics division. "Other types of detectors have really high gain so they can measure a single photon, but their noise levels are such that occasionally a noise glitch is mistakenly identified as a photon. This causes an error in the measurement. Reducing these errors is really important for those who are doing calculations or communications."

The ability to count individual photons is valuable to designers of certain types of quantum computers as well as scientists engaged in quantum optical experiments, which concern exotic states of light that cannot be described by classical physics. But one of the most promising potential applications of a high-efficiency photon detector is a way to secure long-distance data transmission against unwanted interception. A detector that could recognize that a photon forming part of a transmission was missing would be a substantial defense against information theft.

The team has optimized the detection for 810 nanometers—an infrared wavelength—and it still has high efficiency at other wavelengths that are interesting for fiber optic communications, as well as the quantum optics community. Ironically, the detector is so efficient that it outstrips current technology's ability to determine its precise efficiency.

"We can't be sure from direct measurement that we've achieved 99 percent efficiency because the metrology is not in place to determine how close we are—there's no well-established technique," Nam says. "What is great about our latest progress is that we measure nearly the same detection efficiency for every device we build, package and test. It's the reproducibility that gives us confidence."

The team is currently working to develop evaluation techniques that can measure up to the detector's abilities, and Nam says the team's creation could also help evaluate other light-gathering devices.

"NIST offers a standardized service for measuring the efficiency of photodetectors and optical power meters," he says. "We're trying to develop a calibration technique that extends to ultra-low levels of light. It should be valuable for anyone looking at single photons."

* A.E. Lita, B. Calkins, L.A. Pellouchoud, A.J. Miller and S. Nam. Superconducting transition-edge sensors optimized for high-efficiency photon-number resolving detectors. Presented at the SPIE Symposium on SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing, Orlando World Center Marriott Resort and Convention Center, Crystal J1 Ballroom, 3 p.m. April 7, 2010.

####

About NIST
From automated teller machines and atomic clocks to mammograms and semiconductors, innumerable products and services rely in some way on technology, measurement, and standards provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Founded in 1901, NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. NIST's mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contact
Chad Boutin

(301) 975-4261

Copyright © NIST

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Gold standards for nanoparticles: Understanding how small organic ions stabilize gold nanoparticles may allow for better control March 29th, 2017

Tiny sensor lays groundwork for precision X-rays detection via endoscopy:Nanoscale fiber-integrated X-ray sensor opens new doors for medical imaging and radiotherapy March 29th, 2017

Researchers uncover secret of nanomaterial that makes harvesting sunlight easier March 29th, 2017

Information storage with a nanoscale twist: Discovery of a novel rotational force inside magnetic vortices makes it easier to design ultrahigh capacity disk drives March 28th, 2017

Possible Futures

Gold standards for nanoparticles: Understanding how small organic ions stabilize gold nanoparticles may allow for better control March 29th, 2017

Tiny sensor lays groundwork for precision X-rays detection via endoscopy:Nanoscale fiber-integrated X-ray sensor opens new doors for medical imaging and radiotherapy March 29th, 2017

Researchers uncover secret of nanomaterial that makes harvesting sunlight easier March 29th, 2017

Information storage with a nanoscale twist: Discovery of a novel rotational force inside magnetic vortices makes it easier to design ultrahigh capacity disk drives March 28th, 2017

Quantum Computing

Harris & Harris Group Issues Its Financial Statements as of December 31, 2016, Posts Its Annual Shareholder Letter, And Will Host a Conference Call for Shareholders on Friday, March 17, 2017 March 15th, 2017

Sorting machine for atoms:Researchers at the University of Bonn clear a further hurdle on the path to creating quantum computers February 10th, 2017

First ever blueprint unveiled to construct a large scale quantum computer February 3rd, 2017

Chiral quantum optics: A new research field with bright perspectives January 31st, 2017

Announcements

Gold standards for nanoparticles: Understanding how small organic ions stabilize gold nanoparticles may allow for better control March 29th, 2017

Tiny sensor lays groundwork for precision X-rays detection via endoscopy:Nanoscale fiber-integrated X-ray sensor opens new doors for medical imaging and radiotherapy March 29th, 2017

Researchers uncover secret of nanomaterial that makes harvesting sunlight easier March 29th, 2017

Information storage with a nanoscale twist: Discovery of a novel rotational force inside magnetic vortices makes it easier to design ultrahigh capacity disk drives March 28th, 2017

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Electro-optical switch transmits data at record-low temperatures: Operating at temperatures near absolute zero, switch could enable significantly faster data processing with lower power consumption March 20th, 2017

AIM Photonics Welcomes Coventor as Newest Member: US-Backed Initiative Taps Process Modeling Specialist to Enable Manufacturing of High-Yield, High-Performance Integrated Photonic Designs March 16th, 2017

Optical fingerprint can reveal pollutants in the air: Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have proposed a new, sophisticated method of detecting molecules with sensors based on ultra-thin nanomaterials March 15th, 2017

MIPT physicists predict the existence of unusual optical composites March 10th, 2017

Quantum nanoscience

The speed limit for intra-chip communications in microprocessors of the future January 23rd, 2017

First experimental proof of a 70 year old physics theory: First observation of magnetic phase transition in 2-D materials, as predicted by the Nobel winner Onsager in 1943 January 6th, 2017

Quantum simulation technique yields topological soliton state in SSH model January 3rd, 2017

Diamonds are technologists' best friends: Researchers from the Lomonosov Moscow State University have grown needle- and thread-like diamonds and studied their useful properties December 30th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project