Research ArticlePHYSICS

Photon superbunching from a generic tunnel junction

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Science Advances  10 May 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 5, eaav4986
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav4986


Generating time-correlated photon pairs at the nanoscale is a prerequisite to creating highly integrated optoelectronic circuits that perform quantum computing tasks based on heralded single photons. Here, we demonstrate fulfilling this requirement with a generic tip-surface metal junction. When the junction is luminescing under DC bias, inelastic tunneling events of single electrons produce a stream of visible photons of plasmonic origin whose superbunching index is 17 (improved to a record of 70 by the authors during publication) when measured with a 53-ps instrumental resolution limit. The effect is driven electrically, rather than optically. This discovery has immediate and profound implications for quantum optics and cryptography, notwithstanding its fundamental importance to basic science and its ushering in of heralded photon experiments on the nanometer scale.

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