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Broadband Superconducting Nanowire Single Photon Detectors


Single-photon detection is an emerging technology, with applications ranging from medical imaging and LIDAR systems to space communication and fundamental quantum optics. Moreover, single-photon detectors are considered an enabling technology for the development of quantum information science, paving the way for the realization of one of the main challenges of the 21st century: the quantum computer. Currently, single-photon detection is carried out using semiconductor-based avalanche photodiodes; however, this technology is limited by large timing jitter, unavoidable dark counts, after pulsing, and limited detection efficiency. A recently proposed alternative relies on a superconducting nanowire biased just below its critical current, so that an impinging photon triggers a transition from the superconducting to the normal state, resulting in a voltage spike at the nanowire leads. The detection efficiency can be boosted close to unity by coupling the superconducting nanowire to the evanescent field propagating in a waveguide. However, the fabrication of high quality, ultra-thin superconducting layers is challenging, and the operation wavelength of such devices is limited by the waveguide band gap. We have identified GaN/AlN as the best suited waveguide material system, approximately lattice matched with NbN, and with a transparent band from 400 to 6000 nm. The target of the SuSiPOD project is the establishment of a technology platform for the fabrication of a new generation of broadband superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors built on III-nitride waveguides, in which photons are coupled laterally with the help of a tapered optical fibre. This new geometry should allow near-unity absorption probability in a wide spectral range, since the substrate is transparent to visible and infrared light. The project success will be proven by the realization of a working prototype which will greatly outperform state-of-the-art single-photon detectors.

Field of science

  • /engineering and technology/materials engineering/coating and films
  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/theoretical physics/particle physics/photons
  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/quantum physics/quantum optics
  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/electromagnetism and electronics/electrical conductivity/superconductor
  • /engineering and technology/medical engineering/diagnostic imaging
  • /natural sciences/physical sciences/optics/fibre optics
  • /social sciences/media and communications/information science
  • /natural sciences/mathematics/pure mathematics/geometry
  • /engineering and technology/electrical engineering, electronic engineering, information engineering/electronic engineering/computer hardware/quantum computer
  • /natural sciences/computer and information sciences

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF


Rue Leblanc 25
75015 Paris 15
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
€ 173 076