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Photonic Integrated Circuit Assisted Single Photon Detectors (PICA SPDs)

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC22PB154
Agency Tracking Number: 221819
Amount: $149,986.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: T5
Solicitation Number: STTR_22_P1
Solicitation Year: 2022
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-07-22
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-08-25
Small Business Information
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810-1077
United States
DUNS: 073800062
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Christopher Evans
 (978) 738-8159
Business Contact
 Karen Trevette
Title: gwicks
Phone: (978) 738-8119
Research Institution
 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois (at Urbana-Champaign)
SPA, 1901 S. First Street, Suite A
Champaign, IL 61820-7406
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

Within this program, Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) will develop Photonic Integrated Circuit Assisted-Single Photon Detectors (PICA-SPDs) to increase the bandwidth and timing resolution of single-photon detectors (SPDs). Realizing low size, weight, and power (SWaP) SPDs with high saturation-rates and high timing-resolutions are critical for deploying of quantum technology in space. While the best superconducting nanowire SPDs (SNSPDs) can achieve saturation rates up to 100 MHz with timing resolutions of several 10rsquo;s of ps, these also require cryogenic environments, making their deployment in space a challenge. On the other hand, single photon avalanche photodiodes (SPADs) are low SWaP and can operate at room temperature with good efficiencies (gt;75%); however, the timing resolution is often 50 ps (or more) and the saturation rate is typically limited to 10s of MHz.To overcome the challenge of increasing both the timing resolution and saturation rate of SPAD arrays, our unique active-approach leverages high-speed, low-loss PIC modulators. Here, single-photon optical signals enter the PIC and are routed to a series of Mach-Zehnder Interferometer (MZI) switches. These fast, traveling-wave switches are driven by periodic signals having progressively higher frequencies to create a switch yard. As the photon stream enters each of the MZI switches, the different time-positions are routed to different outputs of each MZI, which isolates individual time-positions to enable readout using an array of SPDs. This approach enables an array of SPADs to operate together to achieve timing resolutions even surpassing SNSPDs with greatly enhanced saturation count rates to enable space-based quantum networking applications.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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