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Light interference detection on-chip by integrated SNSPD counters
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View: Figures


Image of FIG. 1.

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FIG. 1.

Operating principles of (a) existing SWIFTS devices5 and (b) the SWIFTS-SNSPD prototype developed currently. In both cases, the signal probed by one nanowire reflects directly the interferogram local intensity. In (a), a gold nanowire diffuses light proportionally to the light intensity underneath, towards a CCD sensor located above. In (b), an on-chip located SNSPD detects a part of the light localized above, within the waveguide, with a sampling period p much narrower than in the previous case.

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FIG. 2.

High resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) cross-section observation of a 5nm thick (135) oriented, NbN epitaxial layer grown on a R-plane sapphire substrate.

Image of FIG. 3.

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FIG. 3.

Interferogram sampling scheme and stack configuration of the SWIFTS-SNSPD device. The sinusoidal wave depicts the light power modulation within the waveguide. The fabrication steps are described, with relevant dimensions applied to waveguide and nanowires (w for nanowire width, e for thickness, p for sampling period, L for total distance of analysis between first and last detectors).

Image of FIG. 4.

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FIG. 4.

(a) SWIFTS-SNSPD device alignment setup and (b) 6x8mm chip layout. The laser beam is injected through end-fire coupling in the ridge interferometer, on the chip's edge. The inset (c) shows a microscope view of the NbN 24-nanowire array, and the nanowire definition has been observed by SEM (d), with s designing the space between nanowires and w their width.

Image of FIG. 5.

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FIG. 5.

(a) Resistance versus temperature (R-T) observed for two typical nanowires; (b) Current-voltage (I-V) characteristics of 4 NbN nanowires Nw21 to Nw24 (∼40nm wide) and 1 meander named SNSPD-A (∼80nm wide) from the same chip, measured at 4,2K. The varying values measured at very low voltages are due to residual bonding resistances and amplification offsets.

Image of FIG. 6.

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FIG. 6.

Graph (a) shows the typical photon counting characteristics (in counts per second) with increasing bias current measured on one of the nanowires tested in FIG.5(b), at 4.2K. Graph (b) shows the corresponding signal-to-noise ratio.

Image of FIG. 7.

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FIG. 7.

Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) simulations of interferograms issued from the two laser sources, revealing a fringe shift to be measured by the SNSPD. The distances mentioned here are given in free space, and thus are halved within the SiN interferometer. The central fringe position is not necessarily at the center of the interferometric loop (i.e. the middle of the nanowire array), as defects can induce an optical path dissymmetry between the loop branches.

Image of FIG. 8.

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FIG. 8.

Photon counting characteristics of 2 nanowires at 4.2K with different ridge-fiber alignments. When the beam is not aligned on the interferometer, the detection levels for the two laser sources are equivalent and vary identically (a). Otherwise, light is coupled into the interferometer and a clear modulation of the detected signal according to the used laser source is measured (b). The measures were done for an input light power of 1.4mW, limited by the S3FC laser capabilities.


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A SWIFTS device (Stationary Wave Integrated Fourier Transform Spectrometer) has been realized with an array of 24 SuperconductingNanowire Single Photon Detectors (SNSPD), on-chip integrated under a Si3N4 monomode rib-waveguide interferometer. Colored light around 1.55μm wavelength is introduced through end-fire coupling, producing a counter-propagative stationary interferogram over the 40nm wide, 120nm spaced, 4nm thick epi-NbN nanowire array. Modulations in the source bandwidth have been detected using individual waveguide coupled SNSPDs operating in single photon counting mode, which is a step towards light spectrum reconstruction by inverse Fourier transform of the stationary wave intensity. We report the design, fabrication process and in-situ measurement at 4.2K of light power modulation in the interferometer, obtained with variable laser wavelength. Such micro-SWIFTS configuration with 160nm sampling period over 3.84μm distance allows a spectral bandwidth of 2μm and a wavelength resolution of 170nm. The light interferences direct sampling ability is unique and raises wide interest with several potential applications like fringe-tracking, metrology, cryptography or optical tomography.


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Scitation: Light interference detection on-chip by integrated SNSPD counters