Detection of ultra-weak laser pulses by free-running single-photon detectors

Modeling dead time and dark counts effects

authored by
Hristina Georgieva, Alice Meda, Sebastian M.F. Raupach, Helmuth Hofer, Marco Gramegna, Ivo Pietro Degiovanni, Marco Genovese, Marco López, Stefan Kück

In quantum communication systems, the precise estimation of the detector´s response to the incoming light is necessary to avoid security breaches. The typical working regime uses a free-running single-photon avalanche diode in combination with attenuated laser pulses at telecom wavelength for encoding information. We demonstrate the validity of an analytical model for this regime that considers the effects of dark counts and dead time on the measured count rate. For the purpose of gaining a better understanding of these effects, the photon detections were separated from the dark counts via a software-induced gating mechanism. The model was verified by experimental data for mean photon numbers covering three orders of magnitude as well as for laser repetition frequencies below and above the inverse dead time. Consequently, our model would be of interest for predicting the detector response not only in the field of quantum communications, but also in any other quantum physics experiment where high detection rates are needed.

External Organisation(s)
National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB)
Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (INRiM)
Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN)
Applied physics letters
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
Electronic version(s) (Access: Open)