Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

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

Efficiency of Nanodrug Containing Antibiotics in Treatment of Infectious Diseases Evaluated August 31st, 2015

Seeing quantum motion August 30th, 2015

Artificial leaf harnesses sunlight for efficient fuel production August 30th, 2015

Researchers use DNA 'clews' to shuttle CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool into cells August 30th, 2015

Possible Futures

Sediment dwelling creatures at risk from nanoparticles in common household products August 13th, 2015

Harris & Harris Group Reports Financial Statements as of June 30, 2015, and Announces a Stock Repurchase Program August 10th, 2015

Molecular trick alters rules of attraction for non-magnetic metals August 5th, 2015

Global Carbon Nanotubes Industry 2015: Acute Market Reports August 4th, 2015

Quantum Computing

A little light interaction leaves quantum physicists beaming August 25th, 2015

Surprising discoveries about 2-D molybdenum disulfide: Berkeley Lab researchers use award-winning campanile probe on promising semiconductor August 15th, 2015

New optical chip lights up the race for quantum computer August 14th, 2015

Quantum computing advance locates neutral atoms August 12th, 2015

Announcements

Efficiency of Nanodrug Containing Antibiotics in Treatment of Infectious Diseases Evaluated August 31st, 2015

Seeing quantum motion August 30th, 2015

Artificial leaf harnesses sunlight for efficient fuel production August 30th, 2015

Researchers use DNA 'clews' to shuttle CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool into cells August 30th, 2015

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Glitter from silver lights up Alzheimer's dark secrets August 25th, 2015

Quantum diffraction at a breath of nothing: Physicists build stable diffraction structure in atomically thin graphene August 25th, 2015

Nanotechnology that will impact the Security & Defense sectors to be discussed at NanoSD2015 conference August 25th, 2015

A little light interaction leaves quantum physicists beaming August 25th, 2015

Quantum nanoscience

Seeing quantum motion August 30th, 2015

Quantum diffraction at a breath of nothing: Physicists build stable diffraction structure in atomically thin graphene August 25th, 2015

Southampton scientists find new way to detect ortho-para conversion in water August 25th, 2015

A little light interaction leaves quantum physicists beaming August 25th, 2015

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







Car Brands
Buy website traffic