Photon counting is a technique in which individual photons are counted using some single-photon detector (SPD). The counting efficiency is determined by the quantum efficiency and any electronic losses that are present in the system.
Many photodetectors can be configured to detect individual photons, each with relative advantages and disadvantages, including a photomultiplier, geiger counter, single-photon avalanche diode, superconducting nanowire single-photon detector, transition edge sensor, or scintillation counter. Charge-coupled devices can also sometimes be used.
Single-photon detection is useful in many fields including fiber-optic communication, quantum information science, quantum encryption, medical imaging, light detection and ranging, DNA sequencing, astrophysics, and materials science.
The number of photons observed per unit time is the photon flux. The photon flux per unit area is the photon irradiance if the photons are incident on a surface, or photon exitance if the emission of photons from a broad-area source is being considered. The flux per unit solid angle is the photon intensity. The flux per unit source area per unit solid angle is photon radiance. SI units for these quantities are summarized in the table below.
|Photon energy||n||1||count of photons n with energy Qp = h⋅c / λ.[nb 2]|
|Photon flux||Φq||count per second||s−1||T−1||photons per unit time, dn/dt with n = photon number.|
also called photon power.
|Photon intensity||I||count per steradian per second||sr−1⋅s−1||T−1||dn/dω|
|Photon radiance||Lq||count per square metre per steradian per second||m−2⋅sr−1⋅s−1||L−2⋅T−1||d2n/(dA cos(θ) dω)|
|Photon irradiance||Eq||count per square metre per second||m−2⋅s−1||L−2⋅T−1||dn/dA|
|Photon exitance||M||count per square metre per second||m−2⋅s−1||L−2⋅T−1||dn/dA|
|See also: Photon counting · SI · Radiometry · Photometry|
- Single-photon source
- Shot noise
- Visible-light photon counter
- Transition edge sensor
- Superconducting nanowire single-photon detector
- Time-correlated single photon counting
- Oversampled binary image sensor
- Francesco Marsili. "High Efficiency in the Fastest Single-Photon Detector System". 2013.
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