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Proceedings Paper

Silicon for visible-to-VLWIR photon detection
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Paper Abstract

Photon detectors and focal plane arrays (FPAs) are fabricated from silicon in many varieties. With appropriate choices for detector architecture, dopants, and operating temperature, silicon can cover the spectral range from ultraviolet to the very-long-wavelength infrared (VLWIR), exhibit high internal gain to allow photon counting over this broad spectral range, and can be made in large array formats for imaging. DRS makes silicon detectors and FPAs with unique architectures for a variety of applications. Large-format, VLWIR FPAs based on doped-silicon Blocked-Impurity-Band (BIB) detectors have been developed. These FPAs comprise an array of BIB detectors interfaced via indium column interconnects to a matching read-out integrated circuit (ROIC). Arsenic-doped silicon (Si:As) BIB detector arrays with useful photon response out to about 28 μm are the most fully developed embodiment of this technology. FPAs with Si:As BIB arrays have been made in a variety of pixel formats (to 10242) and have been optimized for low, moderate, and high infrared backgrounds. Antimony-doped silicon (Si:Sb) BIB arrays having response to wavelengths 40 μm have also been demonstrated. Avalanche processes in Si:As at low temperatures (~ 8 K) have led to two unique solid-state photon-counting detectors adapted to infrared and visible wavelengths. The infrared device is the solid-state photomultiplier (SSPM). To our knowledge, it is the only detector capable of counting VLWIR photons (formula available in paper) with high quantum efficiency. A related device optimized for the visible spectral region is the visible-light photon counter (VLPC). The VLPC is a nearly ideal device for detection of small bunches of photons with excellent time resolution. VLPCs coupled to scintillating fibers have demonstrated new capabilities for energetic charged particle tracking in high-energy physics. A fiber tracking system that utilizes VLPCs is currently in operation in the D0 detector at Fermilab's Tevatron. VLPCs may also be useful for quantum cryptography and quantum computation. Finally, DRS makes imaging arrays of pin-diodes utilizing the intrinsic silicon photoresponse to provide high performance over the 0.4 - 1.0 μm spectral range operating near room temperature. pin-diode arrays are particularly attractive as an alternative to charge-coupled devices (CCDs) for space applications where radiation hardening is needed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 October 2003
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 5074, Infrared Technology and Applications XXIX, (10 October 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.487290
Show Author Affiliations
Maryn G. Stapelbroek, DRS Sensors & Targeting Systems, Inc. (United States)
Henry H. Hogue, DRS Sensors & Targeting Systems, Inc. (United States)
Ernest W. Atkins, DRS Sensors & Targeting Systems, Inc. (United States)
David B. Reynolds, DRS Sensors & Targeting Systems, Inc. (United States)
Arvind I. D'Souza, DRS Sensors & Targeting Systems, Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5074:
Infrared Technology and Applications XXIX
Bjorn F. Andresen; Gabor F. Fulop, Editor(s)

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