Bayesian estimation of switching rates for blinking emitters

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Single quantum light emitters are valuable resources for engineered quantum systems. They can function as robust single-photon generators, allow optical control of single spins, provide readout capabilities for atomic-scale sensors, and provide interfaces between stationary and flying qubits. Environmental factors can lead to single emitters exhibiting 'blinking', whereby the fluorescence level switches between on and off states. Detailed characterisation of this blinking behaviour including determining the switching rates is often a powerful way to gain understanding about the underlying physical mechanisms. While simple thresholds can be used to identify the on and off intervals and thus extract the rates from the time-series of counts for bright emitters with low background noise, such approaches become difficult for emitters fluorescing at low levels, high noise, or switching at fast rates. We develop a Bayesian approach capable of inferring switching rates directly from the time-series. This is able to deal with high levels of noise and fast switching in fluorescence traces. Moreover, the Bayesian inference also yields a robust picture of the parameter uncertainties, providing a benefit also for bright emitters in low-noise settings. The technique can be adapted to identify the underlying states as well as extracting the rates of switching. Finally, our method is applicable to a broad range of systems that show behaviour analogous to a blinking emitter.

Original languageEnglish
Article number063001
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

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  • Bayesian estimation
  • blinking
  • hidden markov chain
  • quantum emitter
  • switching rates

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