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April 26, 2022

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Quantum technology career development fellowship success

Hub researcher Dr Xin Yi, who is based at Heriot-Watt University, is one of just 15 researchers in the UK to have recently been awarded a prestigious EPSRC Quantum Technology Career Development Fellowship.

Over the course of his five-year fellowship, for which he has been awarded £747,000, Dr Yi will develop a new class of short-wave infrared (SWIR:1400 – 3000 nm wavelength) quantum detector that will form one of the critical building blocks of quantum technology.

The short-wave infrared is important due to its compatibility with long-distance optical fibre communications and long-range atmospheric transmission, meaning the new detector will have considerable application in quantum communications.

Much of quantum technology relies on being able to detect individual particles of light, or photons, using detectors known as single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs).

Currently, SPAD performance is limited because the semiconductor materials they are made from, Indium Phosphide (InP), cannot do efficient single-photon detection like shorter wavelength silicon-based SPADs. Their performance is compromised because of the inherent randomness in amplitude and timing of the amplified current signal.

Dr Yi will generate novel SWIR SPADs coupled with artificially engineered electron avalanche regions that improve the scope and performance of future quantum technology-based applications and develop the supply chain and technology for its manufacture.

Speaking about the award, Dr Yi said:

“This fellowship will position the UK as an international leader in short-wave infrared SPAD design and manufacture, resulting in significant export potential.”

“This project generates a new class of InP-based SPAD detector, which is particularly suited to quantum communications, due to higher single-photon detection efficiency, reduced dark count rate, reduced jitter and weaker temperature dependence”

“As well as working in Heriot-Watt’s state-of-the-art laboratories, I’m looking forward to collaborating with the University of Sheffield, and working on exploitation pathways with my industrial partners, Leonardo and Photon Force”.

Professor Tim Spiller, Director of the Quantum Communications Hub commented:

“This proposed fellowship research will complement the current photon detector work in the Phase 2 Hub. Successful delivery of such new detectors would provide scope for significant application in quantum communications. It is thus very pleasing that EPSRC have invested a fellowship in this work.”