Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NIST Photon Detectors Have Record Efficiency

Date:
June 6, 2005
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
Sensors that detect and count single photons, the smallest quantities of light, with 88 percent efficiency have been demonstrated by NIST physicists. This record efficiency is an important step toward making reliable single photon detectors for use in practical quantum cryptography systems, the most secure method known for ensuring the privacy of a communications channel.

The four yellow squares in the center of this micrograph are NIST single photon detectors. The top two detectors are 25 by 25 micrometers. The bottom two detectors are 50 by 50 micrometers. The detectors operate with a record 88 percent efficiency.
Credit: NIST

Sensors that detect and count single photons, the smallest quantities of light, with 88 percent efficiency have been demonstrated by physicists at the National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST). This record efficiency is an important step toward making reliable single photon detectors for use in practical quantum cryptography systems, the most secure method known for ensuring the privacy of a communications channel.

Described in the June issue of Physical Review A, Rapid Communications,* the NIST detectors are composed of a small square of tungsten film, 25 by 25 micrometers and 20 nanometers thick, chilled to about 110 milliKelvin, the transition temperature between normal conductivity and superconductivity. When a fiber-optic line delivers a photon to the tungsten film, the temperature rises and results in an increase in electrical resistance. The change in temperature is proportional to the photon energy, allowing the sensor to determine the number of photons in a pulse of monochromatic light.

This type of detector typically has limited efficiency because some photons are reflected from the front surface and others are transmitted all the way through the tungsten. NIST scientists more than quadrupled the detection efficiency over the past two years by depositing the tungsten over a metallic mirror and topping it with an anti-reflective coating, to enable absorption of more light in the tungsten layer.

The NIST sensors operate at the wavelength of near-infrared light used for fiber-optic communications and produce negligible false (or dark) counts. Simulations indicate it should be possible to increase the efficiency well above 99 percent at any wavelength in the ultraviolet to near-infrared frequency range, by building an optical structure with more layers and finer control over layer thickness, according to the paper.

Quantum communications and cryptography systems use the quantum properties of photons to represent 1s and 0s. The NIST sensors could be used as receivers for quantum communications systems, calibration tools for single photon sources, and evaluation tools for testing system security. They also could be used to study the performance of ultralow light optical systems and to test the principles of quantum physics. The work is supported by the Director of Central Intelligence postdoctoral program and the Advanced Research and Development Activity.

###

*D. Rosenberg, A.E. Lita, Aaron J. Miller, and S.W. Nam. 2005. Noise-free, high-efficiency, photon-number-resolving detectors. Physical Review A, Rapid Communications. June.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "NIST Photon Detectors Have Record Efficiency." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 June 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050604184632.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2005, June 6). NIST Photon Detectors Have Record Efficiency. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050604184632.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "NIST Photon Detectors Have Record Efficiency." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050604184632.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Google Teases India Event, Possible Android One Reveal

Google Teases India Event, Possible Android One Reveal

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) Google has announced a Sept. 15 event in India during which they're expected to reveal their Android One phones. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins