To support ultrasensitive detection and measurement in NASA aerospace applications, the development of quantum sensing and measurement (QSM) plays the key role, which involves a wide range of technologies and instruments whose performance is not constrained by the boundaries of classical physics. Single-photon counting has become one of the core techniques in remote sensing, measurement, and optical communications. Thorough characterization of the detection capability of a single-photon detector is required for accurate QSM applications. Compared to the conventional radiant-power-measurement-based method, the photon-pair-based correlated approach, in which the detection of one photon heralds the other photon of the pair with certainty, is well suited for straightforward photon counting calibration. So far, the most widely used ‘workhorse’ for generating photon pairs have been dominated by parametric down-conversion, which, however is intrinsically probabilistic. Aiming at on-demand generation of photon pairs for correlated calibration of SPDs, Nanohmics, Inc. and Prof. Anton Malko’s research group at the University of Texas at Dallas, in collaboration with Dr. Jennifer A. Hollingsworth at Los Alamos National Laboratory, propose to develop high-brightness single-photon pair sources based on biexciton cascade of single colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals.
The proposed on-demand high-brightness single-photon pair sources will provide a critical component for straightforward correlated calibration of single-photon counting detectors on the ground and aboard space instruments in NASA missions.
The proposed development has the potential to increase the measurement precision and reliability of the detection efficiency of single-photon detectors without any ties to externally calibrated standards.
Potential non-NASA applications will include the use of the developed technology for calibration of single-photon counting detectors for a broad range of conventional optical applications. The proposed effort will also produce a hybrid exciton-plasmon structure that could be further engineered and optimized for the generation of entangled photon pairs for various quantum information applications.