Superconducting single-photon detectors based on ultrathin NbTiN films
Superconducting single-photon detectors (SSPDs) have developed into a mature device technology and excel due outstanding performance metrics, in particular high detection efficiency combined with high time resolution and low dark count rate for a wide wavelength range from the visible to the mid-infrared. In addition to commercially available systems with devices coupled to optical fibers, SSPDs can be integrated with photonic circuits using scalable nanofabrication technologies. Here, we will present recent progress on SSPDs based on NbTiN thin films and their integration on different photonic material platforms. Our process for NbTiN growth at room temperature will be described, using magnetron reactive co-sputtering to achieve high-quality superconducting layers down to thicknesses of few nanometres. Optimized SSPD devices are realized by tuning the superconducting properties of NbTiN thin films, adjusting the material composition and nanocrystalline structure. The realization of different types of detectors and geometries will be shown, including nanofabrication techniques for achieving fully suspended nanowire structures. Furthermore, we will discuss challenges and prospects for scaling-up SSPD device technology as well as detector systems. Multiplexing schemes such as dispersion engineering of superconducting transmission lines will be highlighted as powerful approach to address multiple detectors and reduce the number of required feedthroughs and electrical lines in the cryostat. Eventually, exemplary applications of SSPDs for photon counting in quantum optics and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) will be outlined.
KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden)