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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 16, Iss. 14 — Jul. 7, 2008
  • pp: 10750–10761

Optical properties of superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors

Vikas Anant, Andrew J. Kerman, Eric A. Dauler, Joel K. W. Yang, Kristine M. Rosfjord, and Karl K. Berggren  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 16, Issue 14, pp. 10750-10761 (2008)

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We measured the optical absorptance of superconducting nanowire single photon detectors. We found that 200-nm-pitch, 50%-fillfactor devices had an average absorptance of 21% for normally-incident front-illumination of 1.55-µm-wavelength light polarized parallel to the nanowires, and only 10% for perpendicularly-polarized light. We also measured devices with lower fill-factors and narrower wires that were five times more sensitive to parallel-polarized photons than perpendicular-polarized photons. We developed a numerical model that predicts the absorptance of our structures. We also used our measurements, coupled with measurements of device detection efficiencies, to determine the probability of photon detection after an absorption event. We found that, remarkably, absorbed parallel-polarized photons were more likely to result in detection events than perpendicular-polarized photons, and we present a hypothesis that qualitatively explains this result. Finally, we also determined the enhancement of device detection efficiency and absorptance due to the inclusion of an integrated optical cavity over a range of wavelengths (700-1700 nm) on a number of devices, and found good agreement with our numerical model.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(040.5160) Detectors : Photodetectors
(220.0220) Optical design and fabrication : Optical design and fabrication
(220.4840) Optical design and fabrication : Testing
(130.5440) Integrated optics : Polarization-selective devices

ToC Category:

Original Manuscript: February 28, 2008
Revised Manuscript: June 27, 2008
Manuscript Accepted: June 27, 2008
Published: July 3, 2008

Vikas Anant, Andrew J. Kerman, Eric A. Dauler, Joel K. W. Yang, Kristine M. Rosfjord, and Karl K. Berggren, "Optical properties of superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors," Opt. Express 16, 10750-10761 (2008)

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  16. While our fabrication process (see Refs. 9 and 10) leaves behind 10-40 nm of residual resist on top of the nanowires, we found that including the resist in our geometry did not affect our results.
  17. Energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis was performed on two cross-section samples that confirmed the presence of oxide atop the NbN surface. There was also a contrast difference in the oxide layer from the NbN that was clearly visible in the TEM image. TEM imaging services were provided by Materials Analytical Services, Inc.
  18. Measurements of the refractive indices of NbN and NbNxOy made at room temperature by J. A. Woolam, Inc. using spectroscopic ellipsometry on a 12-nm-thick NbN film deposited on a sapphire wafer.
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