Research ArticlePHYSICS

High-efficiency single-photon generation via large-scale active time multiplexing

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Science Advances  04 Oct 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 10, eaaw8586
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw8586


Deterministic generation of single- and multiphoton states is a key requirement for large-scale optical quantum information and communication applications. While heralded single-photon sources (HSPSs) using nonlinear optical processes have enabled proof-of-principle demonstrations in this area of research, they are not scalable as their probabilistic nature severely limits their generation efficiency. We overcome this limitation by demonstrating a substantial improvement in HSPS efficiency via large-scale time multiplexing. Using an ultra-low loss, adjustable optical delay to multiplex 40 conventional HSPS photon generation processes into each operation cycle, we have observed a factor of 9.7(5) enhancement in efficiency, yielding a 66.7(24)% probability of collecting a single photon with high indistinguishability (90%) into a single-mode fiber per cycle. We also experimentally investigate the trade-off between a high single-photon probability and unwanted multiphoton emission. Upgrading our time-multiplexed source with state-of-the-art HSPS and single-photon detector technologies will enable the generation of >30 coincident photons with unprecedented efficiency.

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