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ID281 Superconducting Nanowire Series

The very best in single-photon detection, with ultra-stable performance

  • Near-ideal detection efficiency: can exceed 95%
  • Highly precise timing and low noise, true latch-free operation
  • Ultrafast and photon-number resolving detection
  • Mix and match up to 16 detectors, with options for rack-mounted systems

Push the limits of your photonic experiments and applications to new heights with our Swiss-made superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors (SNSPDs), combining incredibly high detection efficiency, timing precision, low noise and fast recovery time.

In a single ID281 system, mix and match up to 16 detectors, available in a range of specifications customizable to each user, including our Standard (single-pixel), Ultrafast (parallel-pixel) and Photon-Number-Resolving/PNR (parallel-pixel) options.

For added convenience and mobility, the full ID281 system is also available in a range of self-contained rack-mounted solutions.

Get the best out of your photonic experiments and applications with the ID281 Superconducting Nanowire Series today.

What’s New

  • True 24/7 continuous operation
  • SNSPDs faster and more precise than ever before
  • Photon-number resolving detection up to 8 photons

Key Features

  • Near-perfect detection efficiency: can exceed 95%
  • Ultra-low noise: as low as < 1 Hz dark count rate
  • Superb precision with built-in cryogenic amplifiers: as low as < 25 ps timing jitter
  • Mix and match up to 16 detectors, upgrade any time
  • High count rates: ultrafast detectors with maximum detection rates above 100 MHz
  • Hardware-based true latch-free operation at any detection rate
  • Hardware-based true latch-free operation at any detection rate
  • Continuous system operation
  • Extended system lifetime through periodic automated helium recycling
  • Reliable and robust performance, with worldwide round-the-clock technical support included
    • Self-contained rack-mounted systems
    • Advanced time-tagging, coincidence filtering and delay/pulse generation

Detectors for any occasion

The single-photon detectors are Swiss-made SNSPDs, featuring high detection efficiency, low jitter, low noise and short recovery time. The detectors (between 2 and 16 SNSPDs in one cryogenic system) are integrated into an automated closed-cycle cryostat, providing ease-of-use and unrivalled device performance for long-term multi-year operation.

ID281 Standard SNSPD: a single-pixel SNSPD design, with a linear nanowire meander, offering the best overall performance in terms of system detection efficiency, detector noise, and timing precision.

ID281 Ultrafast SNSPD: a parallel-pixel SNSPD design, again with four or eight nanowire sub-pixels, but instead used to mitigate the photon pile-up effect. Recovery times below 10 ns can be achieved with these devices, while still benefiting from the efficiency, precision, noise performance and broadband operation of the ID281 SNSPD range.

ID281 Photon-number-resolving: a parallel-pixel SNSPD design, with each detector formed of either four or eight nanowire sub-pixels connected electrically in parallel. These devices offer the unique ability to discriminate up to eight-photon states in one measurement, while still benefiting from the efficiency, precision, noise performance and broadband operation of the ID281 SNSPD range.

A complete package

With performance derived from their superconducting material — operating at cryogenic temperatures — ID281 SNSPDs are delivered in a turnkey cryogenic system, tailored to your needs.

Additionally, the analogue detection pulses must be turned into digital information, meaning the fastest and most precise timing instrumentation is a must-have.

IDQ delivers all this and more, making it the most complete and versatile SNSPD system around.

  • Rack mounting customization for safety and mobility
  • ID281 Control Box for plug-and-play operation
  • ID1000 Time Controller for ultrafast ultra-precise data acquisition


Broad-spectrum near-ideal detection efficiency

Every ID281 SNSPD has a high system detection efficiency (SDE) across hundreds of nanometres, at a user-selected central wavelength. The full range of ID281 SNSPDs provides sensitivity to single photons at wavelengths from below 500 nm to beyond 2 μm.


Detector wavelengths< 500 nm to > 2000 nm
Broadband detection efficiencyHigh SDE over > 100 nm range
Peak system detection efficiency (SDE)Standard SNSPDs: ≥ 80% to ≥ 90% (and can exceed 95%)
Ultrafast SNSPDs: ≥ 70% (typ. ≥ 80%)
PNR SNSPDs: ≥ 70% (typ. ≥ 80%)


For even broader wavelength ranges, custom optical cavities can be designed, and detectors can be coupled to multimode fibre, on request.


Superb precision

With built-in cryogenic amplifiers, the detector timing jitter is < 40 ps FWHM for all Standard SNSPDs, and can reach as low as < 25 ps. Timing jitter varies depending on detection wavelength, detector design, and detector composition. Lower jitter values can be prioritised on request.

Timing jitter (FWHM)< 25 ps to < 40 ps (typ. < 30 ps)


Ultrafast single-photon counting

All single-photon detectors have a finite time in which they need to recover after a detection event before returning to full detection efficiency, impacting the maximum detection rate that can be practically observed. Standard ID281 SNSPDs are already incredibly fast single-photon detectors, but our novel Ultrafast SNSPD designs give the very best speed in single-photon counting.


Maximum detection rate (1)Standard SNSPDs: > 30 MHz (recovery time typ. < 30 ns)
Ultrafast SNSPDs: > 100 MHz (recovery time < 10 ns)

(1) Recovery time defined as the time for the detection efficiency to recover 50% of the maximum after a detection event.

Ultra-low noise

Detector dark counts—spurious detection events that occur with the optical inputs fully isolated—are always negligibly low in all ID281 SNSPDs. Being dominated by low-temperature black-body radiation, these dark counts decrease at shorter wavelengths.

Maximum dark count rate< 500 nm to 950 nm: < 5 Hz to < 1 Hz
950 nm to 1300 nm: < 20 Hz to < 5 Hz
1300 nm to > 1600 nm: < 100 Hz to < 10 Hz


Cryogenic system

Two models of cryogenic system house ID281 Series SNSPDs: the ID281 SO (SOrption) system, and the ID281 CO (Continuous Operation) system. The ID281 SO system achieves the highest SNSPD performance, with longer periods between system maintenance and an overall longer system lifetime, while the ID281 CO system achieves true uninterrupted and indefinite SNSPD operation, and still reaching the performance specifications listed above.


Cryostat ModelID281 SO (SOrption)ID281 CO (Continuous Operation)
Detector base temperature0.8 K> 2 K
Runtime at base temperature≥ 24 hours (2)Indefinitely
Available ID281 SNSPDsFull SNSPD catalogueHigh-speed and low-jitter SNSPDs
Key benefits– Lowest possible timing jitter
– Extended system lifetime
– True 24/7 continuous operation
Available detector channelsUp to 16
Cryostat dimensions63 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm

(2) Automated operation of the ID281 SO system gives indefinite continuous operation with a scheduled helium condensation cycle every day.

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