Quantum-enhanced optical technologies operating within the 2- to 2.5-μm spectral region have the potential to revolutionize emerging applications in communications, sensing, and metrology. Currently, sources of entangled photons are available at visible, near-infrared and telecom wavelengths but are strongly underdeveloped at longer wavelengths. Here, using custom-designed lithium niobate crystals for spontaneous parametric down-conversion and tailored superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors, we demonstrate two-photon interference and polarization-entangled photon pairs at 2090 nm. These results open the 2- to 2.5-μm mid-infrared window for the development of optical quantum technologies such as quantum key distribution in next-generation mid-infrared fiber communication systems and future Earth-to-satellite communications.
In this work we design, fabricate and characterize superconducting nanowire single photon detectors (SNSPDs) optimized for mid infrared operation. The mid infrared is of interest for free space applications due to lower solar background than at shorter wavelengths as well as low atmospheric absorption. We show a proof-of-principle LIDAR imaging experiment at 2.3µm showing the viability of using SNSPDs for a variety of applications in the mid infrared.
Superconducting nanowire single photon detectors (SNSPD) offer excellent performance for infrared single photon detection, combining high efficiency, low timing jitter, low dark count rates and high photon counting rates. Promising application areas for SNSPDs include quantum key distribution, space-to-ground communications and single photon remote sensing . SNSPDs are typically made with ultrathin niobium nitride (NbN) films with thickness 4 nm and a superconducting transition temperature above 9 K. NbN offers high performance in the near infrared but their sensitivity drops at wavelengths beyond 2 um. There is growing interest in potential photon counting applications in the mid infrared domain (for example remote sensing of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere ). One way to overcome the wavelength limit in NbN SNSPDs is to use films with a lower superconducting energy gap . Here we report on the study of SNSPDs fabricated with thin films of titanium nitride (TiN). We compare TiN films deposited by atomic layer deposition (ALD) and by magnetron sputtering. The TiN films range in thickness from 5 to 60 nm, with superconducting transition temperatures from ~1 K to 3.5 K. We have analyzed the films via transmission electron microscopy and variable angle spectroscopic ellipsometry. We characterize TiN SNSPDs performance from near to mid-infrared at wavelengths (1-4 um) with fast optical parametric oscillator (OPO) source. We compare the performance of TiN SNSPDs to devices based on other lower gap materials: MoSi, NbTiN, WSi.
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