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Cameras for Quantum Optics

Andor's product portfolio features a range of high performance detector solutions for entangled photon studies, leading to important new capabilities in quantum optics and quantum information science. Quantum cryptography, communication and computing may soon rely on high-fidelity readouts of entangled photons.

Crucially, Andor’s unparalleled commitment to superb quality of design to deliver quantitative measurements is aimed at maximizing your throughput and to minimize the noise critical for entanglement studies.

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iXon Ultra EMCCD - Superb discrimination of spatially correlated photons

Andor iXon Ultra EMCCD imaging cameras are used to superb effect in systems where spatially correlated biphotons, one or two pixels apart, need to be detected with superb levels of discrimination and confidence, ultimately yielding accelerated measurement throughout.

Key iXon Benefits:

  • Detect > 90% of single photons – Single photon sensitivity and > 90% QE means the vast majority of incident photon events will be detected and registered.
  • Discriminate correlated photons – Low spurious noise combined with -100 °C sensor cooling means false positives are minimized, significantly enhancing the statistics of detection.
  • Biophotons detection – superb charge transfer efficiency offers confident detection of biphotons in neighbouring pixels.
  • High counting rates – more than 50 fps (100’s fps with sub-regions) for enhanced counting rates and higher measurement throughput.
  • High QE > 700nm – superb sensitivity into the NIR range enables optional use of photon wavelengths that are spectrally separate from residual fluorescence of optics.
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iStar Intensified Cameras – Detection in ghost imaging systems with spatial and temporal precision

Ghost Imaging is a technique whereby an image is formed from light that has never interacted with the object. In ghost imaging experiments, two correlated light fields are produced. One of these fields illuminates the object, and the other field is measured by a spatially resolving detector.

Andor Intensified Cameras are used in such heralding detection systems, providing time-gated detection of single photon events across the full scene, avoiding the need to scan single pixel detectors and offering a dramatic increase in efficiency in the measurement of high-dimensional spatial entanglement.

Key Intensified Camera Benefits:

  • High temporal precision – < 2 nanosecond gating offers tight synchronisation between idler and signal photons, offering precise measurement of correlation in the temporal domain.
  • Discriminate single photons – Very low background (EBI) markedly reduces false positives.
  • Super high counting rates – Intensifiers offer count repetition rates up to 500 kHz.
  • NIR-Enhanced QE options – While photocathode QE will never be nearly as high as that of an EMCCD, Gen III intensifier tubes can still yield more than 25% QE across the NIR range.
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Miles Padgett

"Parametric Down-Conversion (PDC) is central to most experiments in quantum optics. In essence, photons from an incident pump beam are absorbed by a non-linear crystal and two new photons are created. These new photons are created in exactly the same position and with exactly opposite transverse momentum."

Dr Miles Padgett, Professor of Optics, University of Glasgow

Andor Cameras in Quantum Optics Experiments

Resolution-enhanced quantum imaging by centroid estimation of biphotons

Researchers from the Padgett group, University of Glasgow, have experimentally demonstarted a full-field resolution-enhancing scheme, based on the centroid estimation of spatially quantum-correlated biphotons. Using the iXon Ultra EMCCD, they imaged non-fluorescing objects, using low-energy and low-intensity near infrared illumination, achieving quantum-based resolution enhancement. 

Real-time Imaging of Quantum Entanglement 

Quantum entanglement occurs when two particles remain connected, even over large distances, so that actions performed on one particle have an effect on the other. Einstein described photon entanglement as "Spooky action at a distance”. The Zeilinger group, University of Vienna, have used an Andor ICCD camera to demonstrate that the detector is fast and sensitive enough to image in real-time the effect of the measurement of one photon on its entangled partner.

Additionally, the use of the ICCD camera allowed the group to demonstrate the high flexibility of the setup in creating any desired spatial-mode entanglement, which suggests as well that visual imaging in quantum optics not only provides a better intuitive understanding of entanglement but will improve applications of quantum science.

Photon-sparse microscopy: visible light imaging using infrared illumination

Researchers from the Padgett group, University of Glasgow, report here on a camera-based ghost imaging system where the correlated photons have significantly different wavelengths. Infrared photons at 1550 nm wavelength illuminate the object whereas the image data are recorded from the coincidently detected, position-correlated, visible photons at a wavelength of 460 nm using a highly efficient, low-noise, Andor ICCD camera.

The efficient transfer of the image information from infrared illumination to visible detection wavelengths and the ability to count single photons allows the acquisition of an image while illuminating the object with an optical power density of only 100 pJ cm−2 s−1. This wavelength transforming ghost-imaging technique has potential for the imaging of light-sensitive specimens or where covert operation is desired. 

Single photon holography

Until quite recently, creating a hologram of a single photon was believed to be impossible due to fundamental laws of physics. However, scientists at the Faculty of Physics, University of Warsaw, have successfully applied concepts of classical holography to the world of quantum phenomena.

A new measurement technique has enabled them to register the first ever hologram of a single light particle, thereby shedding new light on the foundations of quantum mechanics.

Quantum imaging saves Schrödinger's cat

A team of scientists form the Zeilinger group, University of Vienna, with a novel experiment using an Andor electron-multiplying CCD (EMCCD) camera, have demonstrated quantum imaging with a tangible impact for other imaging applications. In the elegant experiment they have improved on the previous ghost imaging and interaction-free imaging approaches by both proving the occurrence of quantum imaging and demonstrating the potential for future applications of this technique.

Massively Parallel Coincidence Counting of High-Dimensional Entangled States

Entangled states of light are essential for quantum technologies and fundamental tests of physics. Current systems rely on entanglement in 2D degrees of freedom, e.g., polarization states. Increasing the dimensionality provides exponential speed-up of quantum computation, enhances the channel capacity and security of quantum communication protocols, and enables quantum imaging; unfortunately, characterizing high-dimensional entanglement of even bipartite quantum states remains prohibitively time-consuming.

In this work, Reichert, Defienne and Fleisher, Princeton University, have used an Andor iXon Ultra EMCCD to develop and experimentally demonstrate a new theory of camera detection that leverages the massive parallelization inherent in an array of pixels. It is shown that a megapixel EMCCD array could measure a joint Hilbert space of 1012 dimensions, with a speed-up of nearly four orders-of-magnitude over traditional methods.