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Athermal avalanche in bilayer superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors



Varun B. Verma, Martin J. Stevens, Richard P. Mirin, Sae Woo Nam


We demonstrate that two superconducting nanowires separated by a thin insulating barrier can undergo a thermal avalanche process. In this process, Joule heating caused by a photodetection event in one nanowire and the associated production of athermal phonons which are transmitted through the barrier causes the transition of the adjacent nanowire from the superconducting to the normal state. We show that this process can be utilized in the fabrication of superconducting nanowire single photon detectors to improve the signal-to-noise ratio, reduce system jitter, maximize device area, and increase the external efficiency over a very broad range of wavelengths. Furthermore, the avalanche mechanism may provide a path towards a new type of superconducting logic element based on thermal gating.
Applied Physics Letters


superconducting, nanowire, single-photon detector


Verma, V. , Stevens, M. , Mirin, R. and Nam, S. (2016), Athermal avalanche in bilayer superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors, Applied Physics Letters, [online], (Accessed June 23, 2024)


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Created March 28, 2016, Updated November 10, 2018