Monthly Archives: December 2016

Alongside leading the advancement of quantum enhanced imaging systems, a major thrust of QuantIC is to accelerate the development of single-photon detection technologies. These detectors will in turn help underpin innovations across the entire UK National Quantum Technologies Programme. QuantIC co-investigator Professor Robert Hadfield of the School of Engineering at the University of Glasgow initiated a partnership with Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) to demonstrate a new miniaturized platform for low temperature superconducting detectors. Robert explains, “Superconducting detectors are the Gold Standard for infrared single photon detection; until recently the requirement for liquid helium has been a showstopper in terms of practical applications. At RAL, the UK has world leading expertise in miniaturized closed-cycle cooling.” RAL staff member Dr Matthew Hills added,  “This compact cooler was designed for the European Space Agency Planck space telescope which was launched in 2009; it is exciting to demonstrate the potential of this technology for down-to-earth applications.”

Dr Nathan Gemmell and Dr Matthew Hills with the miniaturized platform for low temperature superconducting detectors.
Dr Nathan Gemmell and Dr Matthew Hills with the miniaturized platform for low temperature superconducting detectors.

Dr Nathan Gemmell, the QuantIC postdoctoral researcher who guided the development of the detector platform, highlights the benefits of this advance, “The superconducting nanowire single-photon detector we have installed in this compact cooler has excellent timing resolution, low noise and – most crucially – a spectral range far beyond off-the-shelf semiconductor photon counting technologies. We plan to deploy this technology in pioneering mid-infrared single-photon imaging and atmospheric remote sensing studies with QuantIC partners.” The Demonstrator was unveiled at the 2016 UK Quantum Technology Showcase in London and is now installed in the QuantIC Innovation Space at the University of Glasgow.

Click on our Superconducting Nanowire flyer for more information here.