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Superconducting nanowire single photon detectors

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Date and time Nov 06, 2008
from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Location McLennan Physics (MP) 102
Host Joseph H. Thywissen

Karl Berggren


 Superconductivity in bulk materials at low temperatures can be a remarkably robust physical phenomenon. But by biasing a superconducting nanowire near to its critical current, it is possible to induce a more fragile state that Nov.06 Collsingle photons, even relatively low-energy infrared photons, can destroy. The resulting detection event occurs in a few hundred picoseconds, self-resets in nanoseconds, and is very robust against accidental firing (dark counts). The result is a bizarre, but fascinating device, with inductance that is not associated with any magnetic field, efficiency that depends on the detailed nano-optics of the nanowire, and electrical and thermal properties that are just beginning to be fully understood. Such a device is of great utility in applications ranging from interplanetary communication to fundamental experiments in quantum optics. In this colloquium, we will review the fabrication, operation, and applications of this device, and examine some of the remaining unanswered questions that might ultimately permit an even more remarkable set of applications in science and engineering.

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