A New Quantum Sensor.
Artist’s rendering of the interaction of single incident photon pulse and a tapered semiconductor nanowire array photodetector. (Credit: University of Waterloo)

A new quantum sensor has proven it can outperform existing technologies and promises significant advancements in long-range 3D imaging and monitoring the success of cancer treatments. The sensor is based on semiconductor nanowires that can detect single particles of light with high timing resolution, speed, and efficiency over an unparalleled wavelength range, from ultraviolet to near-infrared.

The technology also has the ability to significantly improve quantum communication and remote sensing capabilities. The next-generation quantum sensor is so fast and efficient that it can absorb and detect a single particle of light and refresh for the next one within nanoseconds. The researchers created an array of tapered nanowires that turn incoming photons into electric current that can be amplified and detected.

The semiconducting nanowire array achieves its high speed, timing resolution, and efficiency thanks to the quality of its materials, the number of nanowires, doping profile and the optimization of the nanowire shape and arrangement. The sensor detects a broad spectrum of light with high efficiency and high timing resolution, all while operating at room temperature.