We study the reset dynamics of niobium (Nb) superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors (SNSPDs) using experimental measurements and numerical simulations. The numerical simulations of the detection dynamics agree well with experimental measurements, using independently determined parameters in the simulations. We find that if the photon-induced hotspot cools too slowly, the device will latch into a dc resistive state. To avoid latching, the time for the hotspot to cool must be short compared to the inductive time constant that governs the resetting of the current in the device after hotspot formation. From simulations of the energy relaxation process, we find that the hotspot cooling time is determined primarily by the temperature-dependent electron-phonon inelastic time. Latching prevents reset and precludes subsequent photon detection. Fast resetting to the superconducting state is, therefore, essential, and we demonstrate experimentally how this is achieved. We compare our results to studies of reset and latching in niobium nitride SNSPDs.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by NSF under Grant Nos. ECS-0622035 and DMR-0907082 and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to one of us (A.J.A.).