We have fabricated fiber-coupled superconducting single-photon detectors (SSPDs), designed for quantum-correlationtype
experiments. The SSPDs are nanostructured (~100-nm wide and 4-nm thick) NbN superconducting meandering
stripes, operated in the 2 to 4.2 K temperature range, and known for ultrafast and efficient detection of visible to nearinfrared
photons with almost negligible dark counts. Our latest devices are pigtailed structures with coupling between
the SSPD structure and a single-mode optical fiber achieved using a micromechanical photoresist ring placed directly
over the meander. The above arrangement withstands repetitive thermal cycling between liquid helium and room
temperature, and we can reach the coupling efficiency of up to ~33%. The system quantum efficiency, measured as the
ratio of the photons counted by SSPD to the total number of photons coupled into the fiber, in our early devices was
found to be around 0.3 % and 1% for 1.55 &mgr;m and 0.9 &mgr;m photon wavelengths, respectively. The photon counting rate
exceeded 250 MHz. The receiver with two SSPDs, each individually biased, was placed inside a transport, 60-liter
liquid helium Dewar, assuring uninterrupted operation for over 2 months. Since the receiver's optical and electrical
connections are at room temperature, the set-up is suitable for any applications, where single-photon counting capability
and fast count rates are desired. In our case, it was implemented for photon correlation experiments. The receiver
response time, measured as a second-order photon cross-correlation function, was found to be below 400 ps, with
timing jitter of less than 40 ps.
We present our latest generation of superconducting single-photon detectors (SSPDs) patterned from 4-nm-thick NbN films, as meander-shaped ~0.5-mm-long and ~100-nm-wide stripes. The SSPDs exhibit excellent performance parameters in the visible-to-near-infrared radiation wavelengths: quantum efficiency (QE) of our best devices approaches a saturation level of ~30% even at 4.2 K (limited by the NbN film optical absorption) and dark counts as low as 2x10-4 Hz. The presented SSPDs were designed to maintain the QE of large-active-area devices, but, unless our earlier SSPDs, hampered by a significant kinetic inductance and a nanosecond response time, they are characterized by a low inductance and GHz counting rates. We have designed, simulated, and tested the structures consisting of several, connected in parallel, meander sections, each having a resistor connected in series. Such new, multi-element geometry led to a significant decrease of the device kinetic inductance without the decrease of its active area and QE. The presented improvement in the SSPD performance makes our detectors most attractive for high-speed quantum communications and quantum cryptography applications.
We present an experimental setup for generation of entangled-photon pairs via spontaneous parametric down-conversion,
based on the femtosecond-pulsed laser. Our entangled-photon source utilizes a 76-MHz-repetition-rate, 100-fs-pulsewidth,
mode-locked, ultrafast femtosecond laser, which can produce, on average, more photon pairs than a cw laser of an
equal pump power. The output infrared pump photons (λ = 810 nm) are first up-converted to blue light (λ = 405 nm)
and, subsequently, down-converted in a 1.5-mm-thick, type-II BBO crystal via spontaneous down-conversion. The
resulting entangled pairs are counted by a pair of high-quantum-efficiency, single-photon, silicon avalanche photodiodes.
The total down-conversion efficiency of our system, corresponding criterion of the pump power for real entangled
coincident events, has been calculated to be 0.86 × 10-9. Our apparatus is intended as an efficient source/receiver system
for the quantum communications and quantum cryptography applications.