Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Key Ingredient: Change in Material Boosts Prospects of Ultrafast Single-photon Detector

Colorized micrograph of an ultrafast single-photon detector made of superconducting nanowires. NIST researchers use electron beam lithography to pattern the nanowires (vertical lines) on a thin film of tungsten-silicon alloy, which produces more reliable signals than the niobium nitride material used previously.
Credit: Baek/NIST
Colorized micrograph of an ultrafast single-photon detector made of superconducting nanowires. NIST researchers use electron beam lithography to pattern the nanowires (vertical lines) on a thin film of tungsten-silicon alloy, which produces more reliable signals than the niobium nitride material used previously.

Credit: Baek/NIST

Abstract:
By swapping one superconducting material for another, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have found a practical way to boost the efficiency of the world's fastest single-photon detector, while also extending light sensitivity to longer wavelengths. The new tungsten-silicon alloy could make the ultrafast detectors more practical for use in quantum communications and computing systems, experiments testing the nature of reality, and emerging applications such as remote sensing.

Key Ingredient: Change in Material Boosts Prospects of Ultrafast Single-photon Detector

Boulder, CO | Posted on July 2nd, 2011

The detector, made of superconducting nanowires, is one of several sensor designs developed or used at NIST to register individual photons (particles of light). The original nanowire detector, invented in Russia, uses wires made of niobium nitride and has a detection or quantum efficiency—ability to generate an electrical signal for each arriving photon—of less than 10 percent in its simplest, most compact model. NIST's tungsten-silicon alloy version has an efficiency of 19 to 40 percent over a broad wavelength range of 1280 to 1650 nanometers, including bands used in telecommunications.* The limitations are due mainly to imperfect photon absorption, suggesting that, with further design improvements, detector efficiency could approach 100 percent reliably, researchers say.

Superconducting nanowire detectors have many advantages. They are very fast, able to count nearly a billion photons per second, and they operate over a large range of wavelengths, have low dark (false) counts, and produce strong signals, especially at telecom wavelengths. The detectors produce a signal when a photon breaks apart some of the electron pairs that carry current in the superconducting state, where the material has zero resistance. If the nanowires are narrow enough and the DC current across the device is very close to the transition between ordinary and super conductance, a resistive band temporarily forms across each wire, resulting in a measurable voltage pulse.

Niobium nitride is difficult to make into nanowires that are narrow, long, and sensitive enough to work well. NIST researchers selected the tungsten-silicon alloy mainly because it has higher energy sensitivity, resulting in more reliable signals. A photon breaks more electron pairs in the tungsten-silicon alloy than in niobium nitride. The tungsten alloy also has a more uniform and less granular internal structure, making the nanowires more reliably sensitive throughout. As a result of the higher energy sensitivity, tungsten-silicon nanowires can have larger dimensions (150 nanometers wide versus 100 nanometers or less for niobium nitride), which enlarges the detectors' functional areas to more easily capture all photons.

The NIST team now hopes to raise the efficiency of tungsten alloy detectors by embedding them in optical cavities, which trap light for extremely high absorption. High efficiency may enable the use of nanowire detectors in demanding applications such as linear optical quantum computing, which encodes information in single photons. An equally intriguing application may be an experiment to test quantum mechanics—the so-called "loophole-free Bell test." This test of what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance" depends critically on having a nearly 100-percent efficient photon detector. Tungsten-silicon detectors also are sensitive to longer wavelengths of light, in the mid-infrared range, which could be useful for applications such as laser-based remote sensing of trace gases.

* B. Baek, A.E. Lita, V. Verma and S.W. Nam. Superconducting a-WxSi1-x nanowire single-photon detector with saturated internal quantum efficiency from visible to 1850 nm. Applied Physics Letters 98, 251105. Published online June 21, 2011.

####

About National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Laura Ost
303-497-4880

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

Keysight Technologies Shifts to Direct Sales of High-Performance Products in North America March 3rd, 2015

Cambrios and Heraeus Jointly Create New, High-Conductivity Transparent Conductors: Two Companies' Combined Products Dramatically Extend Flexible Substrate Capabilities for Next-Generation Mass-Market Technology Products March 3rd, 2015

The taming of magnetic vortices: Unified theory for skyrmion-materials March 3rd, 2015

Democratizing synthetic biology: New method makes research cheaper, faster, and more accessible March 3rd, 2015

Laboratories

Researchers turn unzipped nanotubes into possible alternative for platinum: Aerogel catalyst shows promise for fuel cells March 2nd, 2015

First detailed microscopy evidence of bacteria at the lower size limit of life: Berkeley Lab research provides comprehensive description of ultra-small bacteria February 28th, 2015

Dendrite eraser: New electrolyte rids batteries of short-circuiting fibers: Solution enables a battery with both high efficiency & current density February 24th, 2015

Researchers synthesize material for efficient plasmonic devices in mid-infrared range February 16th, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

The taming of magnetic vortices: Unified theory for skyrmion-materials March 3rd, 2015

Black phosphorus is new 'wonder material' for improving optical communication March 3rd, 2015

New nanodevice defeats drug resistance: Tiny particles embedded in gel can turn off drug-resistance genes, then release cancer drugs March 2nd, 2015

Forbidden quantum leaps possible with high-res spectroscopy March 2nd, 2015

Quantum Computing

Forbidden quantum leaps possible with high-res spectroscopy March 2nd, 2015

Important step towards quantum computing: Metals at atomic scale March 2nd, 2015

Waterloo invention advances quantum computing research: New device, which will be used in labs around the world to develop quantum technologies, produces fragile entangled photons in a more efficient way February 16th, 2015

Quantum research past, present and future for discussion at AAAS February 16th, 2015

Sensors

Pens filled with high-tech inks for do-it-yourself sensors March 3rd, 2015

Penn researchers develop new technique for making molybdenum disulfide: Extra control over monolayer material with advantages over graphene February 19th, 2015

Researchers build atomically thin gas and chemical sensors: Sensors made of molybdenum disulfide are small, thin and have a high level of selectivity when detecting gases and chemicals February 19th, 2015

Production of Biosensor in Iran to Detect Oxalic Acid February 18th, 2015

Discoveries

The taming of magnetic vortices: Unified theory for skyrmion-materials March 3rd, 2015

Democratizing synthetic biology: New method makes research cheaper, faster, and more accessible March 3rd, 2015

Pens filled with high-tech inks for do-it-yourself sensors March 3rd, 2015

Black phosphorus is new 'wonder material' for improving optical communication March 3rd, 2015

Announcements

The taming of magnetic vortices: Unified theory for skyrmion-materials March 3rd, 2015

Democratizing synthetic biology: New method makes research cheaper, faster, and more accessible March 3rd, 2015

Pens filled with high-tech inks for do-it-yourself sensors March 3rd, 2015

Black phosphorus is new 'wonder material' for improving optical communication March 3rd, 2015

Tools

Keysight Technologies Shifts to Direct Sales of High-Performance Products in North America March 3rd, 2015

Forbidden quantum leaps possible with high-res spectroscopy March 2nd, 2015

International research partnership tricks the light fantastic March 2nd, 2015

Important step towards quantum computing: Metals at atomic scale March 2nd, 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







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE