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Superconductor ’Eyes’ IR Wavelengths

Photonics Spectra
Sep 1999
A superconducting device that detects individual photons at longer wavelengths than was previously possible could have a far-reaching impact on advances in telecommunications and IR astronomy.

Designed jointly by a researcher at the University of Rochester in New York and colleagues from Moscow State Pedagogical University in Russia, the superconductor detects photons between 3 and 10 µm. Made of niobium nitride, the films can detect individual photons at a rate of 25 billion per second.

The discovery comes as part of an effort sponsored by the Office of Naval Research to promote international cooperation among scientists in the post-Cold War era.

GLOSSARY
astronomy
The scientific observation of celestial radiation that has reached the vicinity of Earth, and the interpretation of these observations to determine the characteristics of the extraterrestrial bodies and phenomena that have emitted the radiation.
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