19 October 2017
8 September 2017
11 August 2017
Spectrally multiplexed single-photon detection with hybrid superconducting nanophotonic circuits
We investigate the absorption properties of U-shaped niobium nitride (NbN) nanowires atop nanophotonic circuits. Nanowires as narrow as 20nm are realized in direct contact with Si3N4 waveguides and their absorption properties are extracted through balanced measurements. We perform a full characterization of the absorption coefficient in dependence of length, width and separation of the fabricated nanowires, as well as for waveguides with different cross-section and etch depth. Our results show excellent agreement with finite-element analysis simulations for all considered parameters. The experimental data thus allows for optimizing absorption properties of emerging single-photon detectors co-integrated with telecom wavelength optical circuits.
Ultrafast single-photon detectors with high efficiency are of utmost importance for many applications in the context of integrated quantum photonic circuits. Detectors based on superconductor nanowires attached to optical waveguides are particularly appealing for this purpose. However, their speed is limited because the required high absorption efficiency necessitates long nanowires deposited on top of the waveguide. This enhances the kinetic inductance and makes the detectors slow. Here, we solve this problem by aligning the nanowire, contrary to usual choice, perpendicular to the waveguide to realize devices with a length below 1 μm. By integrating the nanowire into a photonic crystal cavity, we recover high absorption efficiency, thus enhancing the detection efficiency by more than an order of magnitude. Our cavity enhanced superconducting nanowire detectors are fully embedded in silicon nanophotonic circuits and efficiently detect single photons at telecom wavelengths. The detectors possess subnanosecond decay (∼120 ps) and recovery times (∼510 ps) and thus show potential for GHz count rates at low timing jitter (∼32 ps). The small absorption volume allows efficient threshold multiphoton detection.