Photon-number uncertainty in a superconducting transition-edge sensor beyond resolved-photon-number determination

Published: September 10, 2014


Zachary H. Levine, Boris L. Glebov, Alan L. Migdall, Thomas Gerrits, Brice R. Calkins, Adriana E. Lita, Sae Woo Nam


As part of an effort to extend fundamental single-photon measurements into the macroscopic regime, we explore how best to assign photon-number uncertainties to output waveforms of a superconducting Transition Edge Sensor (TES) and how those assignments change over that extended dynamic range. Three methods were used. At the lowest photon numbers, up to 20 photons, the widths of histogram peaks of individual waveforms are compared directly to mean waveforms for a given photon number and photon-number uncertainties are obtained from these widths. From 100 to 1000 photons, mean waveforms are used to create a photon-number scale. The photon-number uncertainty of the detector in this range is given by the excess of the total variance of photon number obtained from individual waveforms on this scale over the shot noise of the source. In the mid-range, from 10 to 100 photons, where the two other methods do not produce definitive results, we fit waveforms to several adjacent mean waveforms to estimate the photon number uncertainty of no more than +-1 is found for pulses of up to 100 photons.
Citation: Journal of the Optical Society of America A-Optics Image Science and Vision
Volume: 31
Issue: 10
Pub Type: Journals

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transition edge sensor , shot noise , single photon
Created September 10, 2014, Updated February 19, 2017