DARPA Explores Fundamental Limits of Photon Detection

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DARPA scientists suspect that the performance of light-based applications could improve by orders of magnitude if they could get beyond conventional photon detector designs—perhaps even to the point of being able to identify each and every photon relevant to a given application.

DARPA’s Fundamental Limits of Photon Detection—or Detect—program aims to establish the first-principles limits of photon detector performance by developing new fully quantum models of photon detection in a variety of technology platforms, and by testing those models in proof-of-concept experiments.

The goal of the Detect program is to determine how precisely we can spot individual photons and whether we can maximize key characteristics of photon detectors simultaneously in a single system,” said Prem Kumar, DARPA program manager. “This is a fundamental research effort, but answers to these questions could radically change light detection as we know it and vastly improve the many tools and avenues of discovery that today rely on light detection.

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