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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

SWIR HgCdTe avalanche photiode focal plane array performances evaluation
Author(s): E. de Borniol; J. Rothman; F. Salveti; P. Feautrier

Paper Abstract

One of the main challenges of modern astronomical instruments like adaptive optics (AO) systems or fringe trackers is to deal with the very low photons flux detection scenarios. The typical timescale of atmospheric turbulences being in the range of some tens of milliseconds, infrared wavefront sensors for AO systems needs frame rates higher than 1 KHz leading to integration times lower than 1 ms. This integration time associated with a low irradiance results in a few number of integrated photons per frame per pixel. To preserve the information coming from this weak signal, the focal plane array (FPA) has to present a low read out noise, a high quantum efficiency and a low dark current. Up to now, the output noise of high speed near infrared sensors is limited by the silicon read out circuit noise. The use of HgCdTe avalanche photodiodes with high gain at moderate reverse bias and low excess noise seems then a logical way to reduce the impact of the read noise on images signal to noise ratio. These low irradiance passive imaging applications with integration times in the millisecond range needs low photodiode dark current and low background current. These requirements lead to the choice of the photodiode cut off wavelength. The short wave infrared (SWIR) around 3 μm is a good compromise between the gain that can be obtain for a given APD bias and the background and dark current. The CEA LETI HgCdTe APD technology, and a fine analysis of the gain curve characteristic are presented in [1] and won’t be detailed here. The response time of the APD is also a key factor for a high frame rate FPA. This parameter has been evaluated in [2] and the results shows cut off frequencies in the GHz range.

In this communication we report the performances of a SWIR APD FPA designed and fabricated by CEA LETI and SOFRADIR for astrophysical applications. This development was made in the frame of RAPID, a 4 years R&D project funded by the French FUI (Fond Unique Interministériel). This project involves industrial and academic partners from the field of advanced infrared focal plane arrays fabrication (SOFRADIR and CEA LETI) and of astronomical/defense institutes (IPAG, LAM, ONERA). The goal of this program is to develop a fast and low noise SWIR camera for astronomical fast applications like adaptive optics wavefront sensing and fringe tracking for astronomical interferometers [3].

The first batch of FPA’s was based on liquid-phase epitaxy (LPE) grown photodiode arrays with 3 μm cut off wavelength. In order to get higher avalanche gain for a given photodiode reverse bias voltage, we have made a second batch with a cadmium composition leading to 3.3 μm cut off wavelength (λc). This paper described the read out circuit in the next section. The aim section III is to find the critical parameter that has to be measured to evaluate the signal to noise ratio (SNR) of an APD FPA. The main electro optical characteristics of an FPA based on 3.3μm cut off wavelength APDs are reported in “Rapid FPAs characterisation” section. The dark current evolution with temperature of a 3 μm FPA high and low APD bias is also detailed in this section.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 November 2017
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 10563, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2014, 1056310 (17 November 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2304265
Show Author Affiliations
E. de Borniol, Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CEA, LETI, MINATEC campus (France)
J. Rothman, Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CEA, LETI, MINATEC campus (France)
F. Salveti, Sofradir (France)
P. Feautrier, IPAG (France)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10563:
International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2014
Zoran Sodnik; Bruno Cugny; Nikos Karafolas, Editor(s)

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