Letter abstract

Nature Photonics 2, 425 - 428 (2008)
Published online: 15 June 2008 | doi:10.1038/nphoton.2008.101

Subject Categories: Quantum optics | Optoelectronic devices and components

An avalanche-photodiode-based photon-number-resolving detector

B. E. Kardynal stroke1, Z. L. Yuan1 & A. J. Shields1

Avalanche photodiodes are widely used as practical detectors of single photons1. Although conventional devices respond to one or more photons, they cannot resolve the number of photons in the incident pulse or in a short time interval. However, photon-number-resolving detectors are urgently needed for applications in quantum computing2, 3, 4, communications5 and interferometry6, as well as for extending the applicability of quantum detection generally. Here we show that, contrary to current belief3, 4, avalanche photodiodes are capable of detecting photon number, using a technique to measure very weak avalanches at the early stage of their development. Under such conditions the output signal from the avalanche photodiode is proportional to the number of photons in the incident pulse. As a compact, mass-manufactured device, operating without cryogens and at telecom wavelengths, it offers a practical solution for photon number detection.

  1. Toshiba Research Europe Ltd, 208 Cambridge Science Park, Cambridge CB4 0GZ, UK

Correspondence to: A. J. Shields1 e-mail: andrew.shields@crl.toshiba.co.uk


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