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Optical Engineering

Impact-ionization-engineered avalanche photodiode arrays for free-space optical communication
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Paper Abstract

High-sensitivity photodetectors serve two purposes in free-space optical communication: data reception and position sensing for pointing, tracking, and stabilization. Two separate detectors are traditionally utilized to perform these tasks, but recent advances in the fabrication and development of large area, low-noise avalanche photodiode (APD) arrays have enabled these devices to be used both as position-sensitive detectors and communications receivers because of the conflicting performance criteria. Combining these functionalities allows for more flexibility and simplicity in optical assembly design without sacrificing the sensitivity and bandwidth performance of smaller, single-element data receivers. Beyond eliminating the need to separate the return beam into two separate paths, these devices enable implementation of adaptive approaches to compensate for focal plane beam wander and breakup, which is often seen in highly scintillated terrestrial and maritime optical links. While the Naval Research Laboratory and Optogration, Inc. have recently demonstrated the performance of single period, InAlAs/InGaAs APD arrays as combined data reception and tracking sensors, an impact-ionization-engineered epilayer design achieves even lower carrier ionization ratios by incorporating multiple multiplication periods engineered to suppress lower ionization rate carriers while enhancing the higher ionization rate carriers of interest. This work presents a three-period I2E concentric, five-element APD array rated for bandwidths beyond 1 GHz with measured carrier ionization ratios of 0.05 to 0.1 at moderate APD gains. The epilayer design of the device will be discussed along with initial device characterization and high-speed performance measurements.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 August 2016
PDF: 9 pages
Opt. Eng. 55(11) 111609 doi: 10.1117/1.OE.55.11.111609
Published in: Optical Engineering Volume 55, Issue 11
Show Author Affiliations
Mike S. Ferraro, U.S. Naval Research Lab. (United States)
William S. Rabinovich, U.S. Naval Research Lab. (United States)
William R. Clark, OptoGration Inc. (United States)
William D. Waters, OptoGration Inc. (United States)
Joe C. Campbell, Univ. of Virginia (United States)
Rita Mahon, U.S. Naval Research Lab. (United States)
Kenneth Vaccaro, OptoGration Inc. (United States)
Brian D. Krejca, OptoGration Inc. (United States)
Philip D’Ambrosio, Lab. for Telecommunications Sciences (United States)

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