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ALPhA’s Single Photon Detector Initiative

What is the Single Photon Detector Initiative?

ALPhA members may purchase single photon detector's by Excelitas at a discounted rate through Pacer. Another round of detectors will be distributed (approximately through November 2024). Please click the button to sign up for the Waitlist to receive order information when units become available. See below for more details!

Photo of the Single Photon Detector produced for ALPhA

Single photon detectors (shown above) are often used in the quantum mechanics or modern physics laboratory in many different experiments:  demonstrating the existence of photons, demonstrating single-photon interference, indistinguishability, or the quantum eraser, demonstrating entanglement, or testing Bell’s inequalities, etc. These labs have been featured highlights of BFY (Beyond the First Year Lab) conferences and have been incorporated into the highly successful ALPhA Laboratory Immersion program, which provides hands-on training for lab instructors.

ALPhA, in its role as advocate for instructional advanced physics laboratories, has arranged for the production and sale of single photon detectors at a cost significantly lower than for comparable research-quality detectors. This came about after it was determined that the high cost of the single photon detectors was the single largest expense incurred in setting up the single photon detection experiments that are emerging as a most exciting class of undergraduate advanced physics lab experiments. These detectors are being made available through ALPhA as a joint project between ALPhA, the AAPT, and Excelitas Corporation (formerly part of Perkin-Elmer). The detectors have specifications more than sufficient for the performance of the undergraduate laboratory experiments for which they are aimed, albiet slightly reduced compared with the industry standard detectors.Our efforts are having a huge impact on the number of students who will have access to this key, new generation of instructional labs.

The manufacturer, Excelitas, has put forth two conditions: (1) To ensure that these units are sold for instructional labs, each purchaser must be a member of ALPhA. The detectors carry labels specifying that these units belong in the undergraduate instructional labs and not in research labs. These educational detectors have reduced specs, notably a higher background dark count rate, compared to other models from the company. (2) Secondly, the manufacturer will not accept individual orders. The orders must be made instead through the Excelitas distributor, Pacer.

Please note that ALPhA is only an intermediary for the purchase and assumes no liability or responsibilities with respect to these detectors; the manufacture, service, and warranty are provided by and the responsibility of Excelitas Corporation.

When will the next round of detectors be available?

We anticipate the next round of detectors will be available for immediate shipping no earlier than June 2023, but the stock will be held by Pacer through November 2024,  or until all the units are sold.

While our single photon detector initiative provides detectors at a reduced price, the downside to this is that we are at the mercy of Excelitas for when the detectors are ready and require some time to distribute the detectors (months to buy and ship). We suggest a direct purchase from Excelitas if you need detectors in a particular time frame.

How much do the detectors cost?

If you would like to get our best estimate of pricing information, sign up for the Single Photon Detector waitlist. To sign up for this waitlist you must be a member of ALPhA. The instructions for the waitlist will contain our current price estimate.

How do I purchase detectors? What is the process?

We are currently establishing a process through the Excelitas distributor, Pacer. This information will be updated as soon as it is formalized.

If I have questions, what should I do?

Email the ALPhA webmaster with your questions. The ALPhA webmaster is in charge of logistics for the initiative.

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