Visible light photon counters (VLPCs) and solid-state photomultipliers (SSPMs) are high-efficiency single-photon detectors which have multi-photon counting capability. While both the VLPCs and the SSPMs have inferred internal quantum efficiencies above 93%, the actual measured values for both the detectors were in fact limited to less than 88%, attributed to in-coupling losses. We are currently improving this overall detection efficiency via a) custom anti-reflection coating the detectors and the in-coupling fibers, b) implementing a novel cryogenic design to reduce transmission losses and, c) using low-noise electronics to obtain a better signal-to-noise ratio.
A source of single photons allows secure quantum key distribution, in addition, to being a critical resource for linear optics quantum computing. We describe our progress on deterministically creating single photons from spontaneous parametric downconversion, an extension of the Pittman, Jacobs and Franson scheme [Phys. Rev A, v66, 042303 (2002)]. Their idea was to conditionally prepare single photons by measuring one member of a spontaneously emitted photon pair and storing the remaining conditionally prepared photon until a predetermined time, when it would be "deterministically" released from storage. Our approach attempts to improve upon this by recycling the pump pulse in order to decrease the possibility of multiple-pair generation, while maintaining a high probability of producing a single pair. Many of the challenges we discuss are central to other quantum information technologies, including the need for low-loss optical storage, switching and detection, and fast feed-forward control.
Quantum cryptography is a method of communicating securely, the secrecy of which is guaranteed by the laws of physics and information theory. Current implementations suffer from relatively short ranges and low data rates. We are developing a system that modifies the usual protocol by incorporating elements of special relativity. The result is that in principle, every detected photon can be used in the final key, thus doubling or tripling the possible data rate. Our delayed-choice quantum cryptography (DCQC) system works by storing the photon sent to Bob in a low-loss optical delay line until a classical signal from Alice informs him which measurement basis to use.
A number of optical technologies remain to be developed and
optimized for various applications in quantum information processing,
especially quantum communication. We will give an overview of our
approach to some of these, including periodic heralded single-photon sources based on spontaneous parametric down-conversion, ultrabright sources of tunable entangled photons, near unit efficiency single- and multi-photon detectors based on an atomic vapor interaction, quantum state transducers based on high efficiency frequency up-conversion, and low-loss optical quantum memories.