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4 August 2003 Ultrafast superconducting single-photon detectors for infrared wavelength quantum communications
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We have developed a new class of superconducting single-photon detectors (SSPDs) for ultrafast counting of infrared (IR) photons for secure quantum communications. The devices are operated on the quantum detection mechanism, based on the photon-induced hotspot formation and subsequent appearance of a transient resistive barrier across an ultrathin and submicron-wide superconducting stripe. The detectors are fabricated from 3.5-nm-thick NbN films and they operate at 4.2 K inside a closed-cycle refrigerator or liquid helium cryostat. Various continuous and pulsed laser sources have been used in our experiments, enabling us to determine the detector experimental quantum efficiency (QE) in the photon-counting mode, response time, time jitter, and dark counts. Our 3.5-nm-thick SSPDs reached QE above 15% for visible light photons and 5% at 1.3 - 1.5 μm infrared range. The measured real-time counting rate was above 2 GHz and was limited by the read-out electronics (intrinsic response time is <30 ps). The measured jitter was <18 ps, and the dark counting rate was <0.01 per second. The measured noise equivalent power (NEP) is 2 x 10-18 W/Hz1/2 at λ = 1.3 μm. In near-infrared range, in terms of the counting rate, jitter, dark counts, and overall sensitivity, the NbN SSPDs significantly outperform their semiconductor counterparts. An ultrafast quantum cryptography communication technology based on SSPDs is proposed and discussed.
© (2003) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Aleksandr A. Verevkin, Aaron Pearlman, Wojtek Slysz, Jin Zhang, Roman Sobolewski, Galina Chulkova, Oleg Okunev, Pavel Kouminov, Vladimir Drakinskij, Konstantin Smirnov, Natalia Kaurova, Boris Voronov, Gregory Gol'tsman, and Marc Currie "Ultrafast superconducting single-photon detectors for infrared wavelength quantum communications", Proc. SPIE 5105, Quantum Information and Computation, (4 August 2003);

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