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Modeling and Development of Superconducting Nanowire Single-Photon Detectors


Allmaras, Jason Paul (2020) Modeling and Development of Superconducting Nanowire Single-Photon Detectors. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/wgak-vs11.


Superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors (SNSPDs) have demonstrated remarkable efficiency, timing resolution, and intrinsic dark count rate properties, but the SNSPD community currently lacks a comprehensive model of the single-photon detection process. In this work, we conduct a detailed examination of the current detection mechanism models and compare their predictions to new experimental measurements of the intrinsic timing properties and polarization dependence of specialized NbN test devices. First, we consider the energy downconversion cascade using the kinetic equations to describe the non-equilibrium electron and phonon systems immediately following photon absorption. These calculations provide estimates for the energy loss and fluctuations during this process, and provide qualitative information about the way energy is partitioned between the electron and phonon systems. To study the suppression of superconductivity following downconversion, we apply the most advanced existing model, that of Vodolazov (2017), but find it inadequate to quantitatively describe the timing properties of these detectors. By extending the model to use the generalized time-dependent Ginzburg-Landau equations, we achieve better quantitative agreement with experiment. However, the generalized model still provides only a qualitative picture of the detection process.

We also conduct an experimental examination of the heat transfer process in WSi nanowires by examining the nanowire reset dynamics, steady-state dissipation, and crosstalk between elements of an array. The results are compared to existing electrothermal models, but these models fail to adequately describe the dynamics of the system. A generalized form of the electrothermal model provides better fitting to experiment, but incorporation of non-equilibrium effects is likely needed to provide a fully quantitative description of the system. These results are directly connected to some of the thermal challenges of SNSPD array development. Informed by the crosstalk results, we demonstrate a new multiplexing technique based on thermal coupling between two active nanowire layers, known as the thermal row-column. This method promises to enable kilopixel to megapixel scale imaging arrays for low photon-flux applications. Finally, we discuss the design and characterization of the ground detector for the Deep Space Optical Communication (DSOC) demonstration mission.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:SNPSD, time-dependent Ginzburg-Landau, superconductivity
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Applied Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Schwab, Keith C.
Thesis Committee:
  • Faraon, Andrei (chair)
  • Schwab, Keith C.
  • Shaw, Matthew D.
  • Minnich, Austin J.
Defense Date:19 May 2020
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05312020-201105584
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Sections 4.1.2 and 4.2.4 and Figures 4.7 and 4.18 are adapted from the article. Chapter 5 is adapted from the article and associated supporting information. Sections 3.1, 3.3, and 3.42 and Figures 3.19 and 3.20 are adapted from the article. Section 3.2 and Figures 3.1a, 3.2, and 3.7 are adapted from the article. Sections 4.3 and 4.3.2 and Figures 4.30 and 4.31 are adapted from the article.
Allmaras, Jason Paul0000-0001-9621-289X
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:13748
Deposited By: Jason Allmaras
Deposited On:02 Jun 2020 16:35
Last Modified:26 May 2021 04:06

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