Photon Detector Improves Counting Rates by Three Orders of Magnitude

New device could advance a number of fast-emerging fields.

A team of researchers at Yale University have developed an on-chip photon counting device that could lead the way to larger and more accurate quantum computers.

Effective quantum computing often requires resolving the photon statistics of a light pulse. Photon Number Resolving (PNR) detectors are an important feature of quantum computing research, but current photon counting detection devices typically only count one or a small number (up to 10) photons at once.

The new technique pioneered by the Yale scientists can detect up to 100 photons at a time, and the team projects that further refinements of the technique could boost the photon number resolution to up to 1000.

According to the press release, the new method also improves the counting rate by three orders of magnitude, and it operates at an "easily accessible temperature.” Team leader Hong Tang, Llewellyn West Jones Jr. Professor of Applied Physics, adds "the device allows for a broader range of applications, especially in lots of fast-emerging quantum applications, such as large-scale Boson sampling, photonic quantum computing, and quantum meteorology."