Laser Focus World

The Evolution of Single-photon Detection

SLiK APD optimized for single-photon detection

A century of scientific advances is enabling some of the future’s most exciting technologies, including those enabling quantum communications and other applications that are continuing to emerge.

Single-photon detection has become a vital tool in many applications, from single-molecule fluorescence, particle characterization through scattering, and quantum cryptography to astronomy, lidar, and more. The concept appears to be simple in principle—one photon creates one electron in a photodiode or when hitting a metal surface—but how easy is it to detect that single electron?

Although simple in concept and relatively easy to do when large numbers of photons liberate large numbers of electrons, detecting one single electron is complicated.

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