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Published March 2019 | Published + Submitted
Journal Article Open

Intrinsic Timing Jitter and Latency in Superconducting Nanowire Single-photon Detectors


We analyze the origin of the intrinsic timing jitter in superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors in terms of fluctuations in the latency of the detector response, which is determined by the microscopic physics of the photon-detection process. We demonstrate that fluctuations in the physical parameters, which determine the latency, give rise to the intrinsic timing jitter. We develop a general description of latency by introducing the explicit time dependence of the internal detection efficiency. By considering the dynamic Fano fluctuations together with static spatial inhomogeneities, we study the details of the connection between latency and timing jitter. We develop both a simple phenomenological model and a more general microscopic model of detector latency and timing jitter based on the solution of the generalized time-dependent Ginzburg-Landau equations for the 1D hotbelt geometry. While the analytical model is sufficient for qualitative interpretation of recent data, the general approach establishes the framework for a more quantitative analysis of detector latency and the fundamental limits of intrinsic timing jitter. These theoretical advances can be used to interpret the results of recent experiments measuring the dependence of detection latency and timing jitter on photon energy to the few-picosecond level.

Additional Information

© 2019 American Physical Society. Received 2 August 2018; revised manuscript received 7 February 2019; published 26 March 2019. Part of this research was performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Support for this work was provided in part by the DARPA Defense Sciences Office, through the DETECT program. This work was supported by a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship. The authors would like to thank S. Frasca and E. Ramirez for sharing unpublished experimental results and D. Vodolazov, S. Young, M. Sarovar, F. Leonard, J. Bienfang, and S. W. Nam for helpful discussions.

Attached Files

Submitted - 1805.00130.pdf

Published - PhysRevApplied.11.034062.pdf


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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023