KTH, Department of Applied Physics
Friday 14 June
10:01 - 13:00
The physics of single photons is fascinating, by manipulating them we can observe and probe quantum effects. Doing so requires the fabrication and utilization of single photon sources, of which many types have been developed including quantum dots, trapped atoms and ions, and color centers. On the other end of the experiments, single photon detectors play a role of utmost importance, and while several types of detectors exist, superconducting nanowire single photon detectors are now the state-of-the-art technology. By offering near unity detection efficiency from the ultra-violet to the mid-infrared light spectrum, with negligible noise and excellent time resolution, they made possible many experiments that were previously technologically unfeasible. The same appealing characteristics have found a use in applications outside of the quantum optics framework, with notably light detection and ranging, biomedical imaging or CMOS circuits testing.In this thesis a controlled growth method for tailoring the characteristics of niobium titanium nitride in the framework of superconducting nanowire single photon detectors was developed. Reactive co-sputter deposition of niobium titanium nitride was shown to be a versatile method, both in terms of the degree of control over the material composition, and in the choice of substrates that it allows. Unity internal detection efficiency of detectors at telecom wavelengths was achieved by optimizing the niobium content in the material. The influence of lattice matching on the critical temperatures of films deposited at room temperature was investigated. The fabrication of superconducting nanowire single photon detectors on aluminum nitride-on-sapphire, on lithium niobate nano-waveguides, on gallium arsenide, and the integration on SiN waveguides was achieved. The material was used to fabricate detectors with optimized response for any linear polarization of the incoming photons by using a fractal architecture. Another method was proposed to achieve the same results by encapsulating meandering detectors in a high index dielectric material, resulting in a decrease of the permittivity mismatch between the nanowire material and its surrounding and therefore optimizing the efficiency for both orthogonal linear polarizations.Finally, detectors were fabricated from films developed in this work, and were operated to enable the implementation of polarization-based entanglement distribution in optical fibers in a real-conditions scenario, over a record distance of 96 km. This paves the way for the development of quantum communication networks using existing optical fiber links.