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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S026428/1
Title: Single Photons - Expanding the Spectrum (SPEXS)
Principal Investigator: Buller, Professor G
Other Investigators:
Leach, Dr J Henderson, Professor RK Paul, Professor DJ
Casaburi, Dr A Halimi, Dr A Hadfield, Professor RH
Ng, Professor J Tan, Professor C Donaldson, Dr R J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr A McCarthy
Project Partners:
Arqit Limited BT Compound Semiconductor Tech Global Ltd
Defence Science & Tech Lab DSTL Faraday Scientific Limited Helia Photonics
HORIBA Jobin Yvon IBH ID Quantique IQE PLC
Jaguar Land Rover Limited Kelvin Nanotechnology Ltd Leonardo UK ltd
PhotonForce STMicroelectronics Teledyne UK Ltd
Thales Ltd Toshiba
Department: Sch of Engineering and Physical Science
Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Scheme: Programme Grants
Starts: 01 February 2020 Ends: 31 January 2026 Value (£): 5,265,568
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Communications Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
19 Feb 2019 Programme Grant Interviews - 19 February 2019 (ICT) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Single-photon counting - the ability to faithfully capture the single quantum of light - is a critical capability for a wide range of new low-light sensing applications and a host of emerging photonic quantum technologies. This proposed Programme Grant aims to significantly expand the operational region of single-photon detectors well beyond silicon's 1000nm wavelength limit into the short-wave infrared (SWIR) region of wavelengths between 1400nm to 3000nm, and part of the mid-wave infrared (MWIR) region between 3000nm and 5000nm. By scaling up SWIR and MWIR semiconductor and superconductor single-photon detectors to large area focal plane arrays, we will produce revolutionary new cameras with picosecond timing resolution which can be used, for example, to see though fog in automotive lidar scenarios, as well as allowing imaging and sensing in new applications in environmental monitoring, healthcare, and security and defence.

The project will involve the design and fabrication of innovative new detector platforms of Ge-on-Si and III-V semiconductor detectors. The detectors are capable of single-photon sensitivity in the SWIR and MWIR regions, and will be fabricated in detector array format. We will also examine superconducting nanowires to expand their operation into the MWIR regions and fabricate arrayed detector configurations. A key part of the project is to integrate these arrayed detector technologies with read-out circuitry capable of rapid, low latency delivery of single-photon data. In addition, we will utilise micro-optic technology to optimise detection efficiency and demonstrate multiple wavelength filtering.

The cameras will be designed for use in a range of applications areas, including lidar, where the time-of-flight of the return photons can be used for the measurement of distance. In arrayed detector format, we will make cameras from which we will demonstrate three-dimensional imaging at long distance, where the sensitivity and time-resolution will enhance imaging through dense fog and other obscurants. We will demonstrate our detector technologies in quantum cryptography applications, where encryption keys can be shared between two users. By sending data encoded in single-photons it is possible for the sender and receiver to share a secure, random key known only to them. The most critical component in this form of quantum communication is the single-photon detector - we will demonstrate the use of our detectors both in optical fibre and free-space quantum key distribution scenarios. Other emerging applications in spectroscopy and biophotonics will be demonstrated.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.hw.ac.uk