Detecting spatial and temporal information of individual photons is critical to applications in spectroscopy, communication, biological imaging, astronomical observation and quantum-information processing. Here we demonstrate a scalable single-photon imager using a single continuous superconducting nanowire that is not only a single-photon detector but also functions as an efficient microwave delay line. In this context, photon-detection pulses are guided in the nanowire and enable the readout of the position and time of photon-absorption events from the arrival times of the detection pulses at the nanowire's two ends. Experimentally, we slowed down the velocity of pulse propagation to ∼2% of the speed of light in free space. In a 19.7 mm long nanowire that meandered across an area of 286 × 193 μm2, we were able to resolve ∼590 effective pixels with a temporal resolution of 50 ps (full width at half maximum). The nanowire imager presents a scalable approach for high-resolution photon imaging in space and time.
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We thank R. Hobbs, C.-S. Kim and M. Mondol for their technical support in nanofabrication, and P. Mauskopf, J.K.W. Yang, Z. Zhang and E. Toomey for scientific discussion. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) grants under contract no. ECCS-1509486 (Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)) and no. ECCS-1509253 (University of North Florida) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research grant under contract no. FA9550-14-1-0052. D.Z. is supported by a National Science Scholarship from A*STAR, Singapore. N.C. thanks the Roberto Rocca project for financial support during his visit to MIT. A.E.D. was supported by a National Aeronautics and Space Administration Space Technology Research Fellowship (award no. NNX14AL48H). A.N.M. was supported by a fellowship from the National Science Foundation iQuISE program (award no. 0801525).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Zhao, QY., Zhu, D., Calandri, N. et al. Single-photon imager based on a superconducting nanowire delay line. Nature Photon 11, 247–251 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2017.35
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