Exploring the photon-number distribution of bimodal microlasers with a transition edge sensor

Elisabeth Schlottmann, Martin von Helversen, Heinrich A. M. Leymann, Thomas Lettau, Felix Krüger, Marco Schmidt, Christian Schneider, Martin Kamp, Sven Höfling, Jörn Beyer, Jan Wiersig, Stephan Reitzenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


A photon-number resolving transition edge sensor (TES) is used to measure the photon-number distribution of two microcavity lasers. The investigated devices are bimodal microlasers with similar emission intensity and photon statistics with respect to the photon auto-correlation. Both high-β microlasers show partly thermal and partly coherent emission around the lasing threshold. For higher pump powers, the strong mode of microlaser {A} emits Poissonian distributed photons while the emission of the weak mode is thermal. In contrast, laser {B} shows a bistability resulting in overlayed thermal and Poissonian distributions. While a standard Hanbury Brown and Twiss experiment cannot distinguish between simple thermal emission of laser {A} and the temporal mode switching of the bistable laser {B}, TESs allow us to measure the photon-number distribution which provides important insight into the underlying emission processes. Indeed, our experimental data and its theoretical description by a master equation approach show that TESs are capable of revealing subtle effects like mode switching of bimodal microlasers. As such our studies clearly demonstrate the benefit and importance of investigating nanophotonic devices via photon-number resolving transition edge sensors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number064030
JournalPhysical Review Applied
Issue number6
Early online date19 Jun 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jun 2018


  • Photon-number resolving detectors
  • Transition Edge Sensor
  • Microlaser
  • Cavity quantum electrodynamics
  • Photon-number distribution
  • Photo statistics


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