Photon-counting and analog operation of a 24-pixel photon number resolving detector based on superconducting nanowires

Opt Express. 2016 Apr 18;24(8):9067-76. doi: 10.1364/OE.24.009067.


We investigate the transition from the photon-counting to the linear operation mode in a large-dynamic range photon-number-resolving-detector (PNRD). A 24-pixel photon-number-resolving-detector, based on superconducting nanowires in a series configuration, has been fabricated and characterized. The voltage pulses, generated by the pixels, are summed up into a single readout pulse whose height is proportional to the detected photon number. The device can resolve up to twenty-five distinct output levels corresponding to the detection of n = 0-24 photons. Due to its large dynamic range, high sensitivity, high speed and wide wavelength range, this device has potential for linear detection in the few tens of photons range. We show its application in the detection of analog optical signals at frequencies up to few hundred MHz and investigate the limits related to the finite number of pixels and to the pixel's dead time.