We characterize an efficient and nearly-noiseless parametric frequency upconverter. The ultra-low noise regime is reached by the wide spectral separation between the input and pump frequencies and the low pump frequency relative to the input photons. The background of only ≈100 photons per hour is demonstrated. We demonstrate phase preservation in a frequency upconversion process at the single-photon level. We summarize our efforts to measure this ultra-low noise level, and discuss both single-photon avalanche photodiode measurements and a photon-counting transition edge sensor (TES) measurements. To reach the required accuracy, we supplemented our TES with a dark count reduction algorithm. The preservation of the coherence was demonstrated by simultaneously upconverting the input of each arm of a Mach-Zehnder interferometer through high interference fringe contrast. We observe fringe visibilities of ≥0.97 with faint coherent input.
Single Photon Avalanche diodes (SPADs) were first realized more than five decades ago, and have now been industrialized for mass production in the 130 nm CMOS technology node by STMicroelectronics (STM). In this paper we present the latest STM SPAD with an excellent NIR photon detection probability (>5% at 850nm), a dark count rate median of 100 cps at room temperature and a low breakdown voltage of 14.2V. The dead time of the SPAD is approximately 25 ns, leading to a maximum count rate of 40 Mcps.
Thanks to the 130 nm gate length of the CMOS technology used and the associated high digital gate density, complex digital signal processing can be implemented allowing fully integrated systems to be realized. The low bias required by the SPAD makes it possible for voltage generation to be achieved on-chip (e.g. charge pumped).
We introduce our first generation time-of-flight system (VL6180) based on the STM SPAD technology, which is capable of ranging up to 60 cm in 60 ms. Ranging capabilities and accuracy are measured using a set of moving targets with reflectance of 5%, 17% and 88% in a fully automated test bed. To the best of our knowledge this was the first high volume SPAD-based device.
To our knowledge this is the first time details of SPAD performance over production volumes and lifetime have been presented.
InAs avalanche photodiodes (APDs) can be designed such that only electrons are allowed to initiate impact ionization, leading to the lowest possible excess noise factor. Optimization of wet chemical etching and surface passivation produced mesa APDs with bulk dominated dark current and responsivity that are comparable and higher, respectively, than a commercial InAs detector. Our InAs electron-APDs also show high stability with fluctuation of ~0.1% when operated at a gain of 11.2 over 60 s. These InAs APDs can detect very weak signal down to ~35 photons per pulse. Fabrication of planar InAs by Be implantation produced planar APDs with bulk dominated dark current. Annealing at 550 °C was necessary to remove implantation damage and to activate Be dopants. Due to minimal diffusion of Be, thick depletion of 8 μm was achieved. Since the avalanche gain increases exponentially with the thickness of avalanche region, our planar APD achieved high gain > 300 at 200 K. Our work suggest that both mesa and planar InAs APDs can exhibit high gain. When combined with a suitable preamplifier, single photon detection using InAs electron-APDs could be achieved.
Silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) are arrays of many single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs), all connected in parallel. Each SPAD is sensitive to single photons and the SiPM gives an output proportional to the number of detected photons. These sensors are becoming more and more popular in different applications, from high-energy physics to spectroscopy, and they have been significantly improved over last years, decreasing the noise, increasing the cell fill-factor (FF) and thus achieving very high photon-detection efficiency (PDE). In FBK (Trento, Italy), we developed new SiPM technologies with high-density (HD) and, more recently, ultra-high-density (UHD) of cells (i.e. density of SPADs). These technologies employ deep-trenches between cells, for electrical and optical isolation. As an extreme case the smallest-cell, SiPM, i.e. with 5μm cell pitch, has about 40000 SPADs per squared millimeter. Such small SPAD dimensions gives a significantly high dynamic range to the SiPM. These small-cells SiPM have a lower correlated noise (including lower afterpulsing probability) and a faster recharge time (in the order of few nanoseconds), and they also preserve a very good detection efficiency (despite the small SPAD dimension).
SPADs (Single-Photon Avalanche Diodes) are the viable photodetectors for most single-photon counting and photontiming applications. Some custom SPAD and many complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) SPADs have been reported in literature, with quite different performance and some excelling in just few of them, but often at different operating conditions. Proper performance assessment can be done through figures of merit able to summarize the typical SPAD performance (i.e. photon detection efficiency, dark counting rate, afterpulsing probability, hold-off time, and timing jitter) and to identify a proper metric for SPAD comparisons, when used either as single pixel detectors or in imaging arrays. We present a comparison among some imager architectures and SPAD detectors and arrays in either photon-counting, timing, or imaging applications.
High spatial and temporal resolution are key features for many modern applications, e.g. mass spectrometry, probing the structure of materials via neutron scattering, studying molecular structure, etc.1-5 Fast imaging also provides the capability of coincidence detection, and the further addition of sensitivity to single optical photons with the capability of timestamping them further broadens the field of potential applications. Photon counting is already widely used in X-ray imaging,6 where the high energy of the photons makes their detection easier.
TimepixCam is a novel optical imager,7 which achieves high spatial resolution using an array of 256×256 55 μm × 55μm pixels which have individually controlled functionality. It is based on a thin-entrance-window silicon sensor, bump-bonded to a Timepix ASIC.8 TimepixCam provides high quantum efficiency in the optical wavelength range (400-1000 nm).
We perform the timestamping of single photons with a time resolution of 20 ns, by coupling TimepixCam to a fast image-intensifier with a P47 phosphor screen. The fast emission time of the P479 allows us to preserve good time resolution while maintaining the capability to focus the optical output of the intensifier onto the 256×256 pixel Timepix sensor area. We demonstrate the capability of the (TimepixCam + image intensifier) setup to provide high-resolution single-photon timestamping, with an effective frame rate of 50 MHz.
X-ray backscatter (XBS) provides a novel approach to the field of non-destructive evaluation (NDE) in the aerospace industry. XBS is conducted by collecting the radiation which is scattered from a sample illuminated by a well-defined Xray beam, and the technique enables objects to be scanned at a sub-surface level using single-sided access, and without the requirement for coupling with the sample. Single-sided access is of particular importance when the objects of interest are very large, such as aircraft components. Carbon fibre composite materials are being increasingly used as a structural material in aircraft, and there is an increasing demand for techniques which are sensitive to the delaminations which occur in these composites as a result of both large impacts and barely visible impact damage (BVID). The XBS signal is greatly enhanced for plastics and lightweight materials, making it an ideal candidate for probing sub-surface damage and defects in carbon fibre composites. Here we present both computer modelling and experimental data which demonstrate the capability of the XBS technique for identifying hidden defects in carbon fibre.
Ultraviolet detection technology has been widely focused and adopted in the fields of ultraviolet warning and corona detection for its significant value and practical meaning. The component structure of ultraviolet ICMOS, imaging driving and the photon counting algorithm are studied in this paper. Firstly, the one-inch and wide dynamic range CMOS chip with the coupling optical fiber panel is coupled to the ultraviolet image intensifier. The photocathode material in ultraviolet image intensifier is Te-Cs, which contributes to the solar blind characteristic, and the dual micro-channel plates (MCP) structure ensures the sufficient gain to achieve the single photon counting. Then, in consideration of the ultraviolet detection demand, the drive circuit of the CMOS chip is designed and the corresponding program based on Verilog language is written. According to the characteristics of ultraviolet imaging, the histogram equalization method is applied to enhance the ultraviolet image and the connected components labeling way is utilized for the ultraviolet single photon counting. Moreover, one visible light video channel is reserved in the ultraviolet ICOMS camera, which can be used for the fusion of ultraviolet and visible images. Based upon the module, the ultraviolet optical lens and the deep cut-off solar blind filter are adopted to construct the ultraviolet detector. At last, the detection experiment of the single photon signal is carried out, and the test results are given and analyzed.
Quantum games with incomplete information can be studied within a Bayesian framework. We analyze games quantized within the EWL framework [Eisert, Wilkens, and Lewenstein, Phys Rev. Lett. 83, 3077 (1999)]. We solve for the Nash equilibria of a variety of two-player quantum games and compare the results to the solutions of the corresponding classical games. We then analyze Bayesian games where there is uncertainty about the player types in two-player conflicting interest games. The solutions to the Bayesian games are found to have a phase diagram-like structure where different equilibria exist in different parameter regions, depending both on the amount of uncertainty and the degree of entanglement. We find that in games where a Pareto-optimal solution is not a Nash equilibrium, it is possible for the quantized game to have an advantage over the classical version. In addition, we analyze the behavior of the solutions as the strategy choices approach an unrestricted operation. We find that some games have a continuum of solutions, bounded by the solutions of a simpler restricted game. A deeper understanding of Bayesian quantum game theory could lead to novel quantum applications in a multi-agent setting.
Well-defined and stable quantum networks are essential to realize functional quantum communication applications. Quantum networks are complex and must use both quantum and classical channels to support quantum applications like QKD, teleportation, and superdense coding. In particular, the no-cloning theorem prevents the reliable copying of quantum signals such that the quantum and classical channels must be highly coordinated using robust and extensible methods. In this paper, we describe new network abstractions and interfaces for building programmable quantum networks. Our approach leverages new OpenFlow data structures and table type patterns to build programmable quantum networks and to support quantum applications.
A 1Mjot single-bit quanta image sensor (QIS) implemented in a stacked backside-illuminated (BSI) process is presented. This is the first work to report a megapixel photon-counting CMOS-type image sensor to the best of our knowledge. A QIS with 1.1μm pitch tapered-pump-gate jots is implemented with cluster-parallel readout, where each cluster of jots is associated with its own dedicated readout electronics stacked under the cluster. Power dissipation is reduced with this cluster readout because of the reduced column bus parasitic capacitance, which is important for the development of 1Gjot arrays. The QIS functions at 1040fps with binary readout and dissipates only 17.6mW, including I/O pads. The readout signal chain uses a fully differential charge-transfer amplifier (CTA) gain stage before a 1b-ADC to achieve an energy/bit FOM of 16.1pJ/b and 6.9pJ/b for the whole sensor and gain stage+ADC, respectively. Analog outputs with on-chip gain are implemented for pixel characterization purposes.