DS0708 -

Ultra-low Dark current metamaterial INfrared detectors – hoUDINi

Submission summary

Although the Mid-Infrared (MIR) and TeraHertz (THz) frequencies (3µm < lambda < 300µm) now benefit from compact and powerful sources of radiation, such as quantum cascade lasers, conversely in the last 20 years the performance of detectors in these spectral ranges has not progressed following the pace of sources. This large spectral domain has a tremendous amount of applications, such as spectroscopy of vibrational and rotational levels of molecules, thermal imaging, environmental control, medical and security imaging,… Yet, performances of intrinsically quantum detectors operating in this spectral range are limited by the small photon energies involved. This in turns brings the requirement of low temperature operation to decrease the thermally excited dark current.

The project hoUDINi will make a step-change in the field: by providing novel THz and MIR detector architectures where a dramatic suppression of the dark current is expected. We will devise innovative detector concepts with high sensitivities at high temperature, and the possibility to integrate novel functions. These goals will be achieved with the use of metamaterial-inspired metallic nano-resonators with highly subwavelength effective volumes. In these structures, the electric field will be confined into spatial region of sizes comparable with the electron De Broglie wavelength in the quantum absorbing region. Furthermore, the photon collection of the detector will be improved through integration with antenna elements.

The strong reduction of the absorbing region volume leads to a much smaller carrier number in the device. We therefore expect that the proposed geometries will provide access to a regime where the photonic energy density per electron becomes very high. In the case of detectors, such as QWIPs (Quantum Well Infrared Photo-detector), and CSIP (Charge Sensitive ) the small number of carriers leads to a reduction of the dark current. At the same time the photo-generation rate can be maintained through the increased field confinement and the ability of the antenna element to gather photons from an effective area that is much larger than the physical area of the device itself. This will result in much improved detector performance in terms of signal to noise ratio.

The device concepts developed by the hoUDINi project will thus provide infrared detectors with performances beyond the current state of the art, and potentially lead to single photon counters in the infrared domain. These devices will be highly integrable detectors, and could be combined with semiconductor sources on a single chip, opening thus the perspective for innovating optoelectronic devices for the far-infrared domain. Besides the application for detectors, the device architectures developed in the hoUDINI project have also strong potential for numerous other applications in the area of infrared opto-electronics. These include: novel sources based on non-linear generation infrared radiation, meta-surfaces with gain medium for infrared signal amplification, nanolasers…

Beyond the optoelectronic applications, the ability to count single infrared photons will open the infrared domain to quantum optics, with numerous scientific developments at a longer term. Furthermore, our architectures are very beneficial for fundamental studies such as the ultra-strong light-matter interaction at the nano-scale and the correlation between quantum transport and collective electronic states.

Project coordination

Yanko Todorov (Matériaux et Phénomènes Quantiques MPQ)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

UP7D Matériaux et Phénomènes Quantiques MPQ

Help of the ANR 275,206 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2016 - 42 Months

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