Given the tiny energies involved, the generation and detection of one photon at a time is an extraordinary feat. Even with this difficulty, the development of single-photon technology is rapidly advancing. Because this technology involves dealing directly with individual quantum states, it opens up many areas that push the conventional limits, and thus is a strong motivation for this development. One big driver has been the field of quantum information which offers the potential of nothing less than revolutionizing our abilities to calculate here-to-fore intractable calculational problems, to test fundamental principles of the nature, to provide communication where absolute security is based on fundamental physical principles, and to make measurements beyond what are fundamental limits in the classical world. With all this potential, it is no wonder there is such interest in improving single-photon devices.
I will review single photon detector and source technology and some applications. One area of particular interest to us at NIST is their use in metrology. I will present techniques that use this technology for measurements that are not possible any other way and to, in turn, use the techniques made possible by these devices, to characterize the devices themselves. I will also discuss their use in a fundamental test of nature.
Location: Physics Bldg., Room 401