HgCdTe avalanche photodiodes offers a new horizon for observing spatial or temporal signals containing only a few infrared (IR) photons, enabling new science, telecommunication and defence applications. The use of such detectors for free space optical communications is particularly interesting for both deep space and high data rate links as it enables wide field of view free space optical coupling to the detector at high sensitivity, down to single photon level and with a close to negligible loss of the information contained in the strongly attenuated photon flux. Measurement of the response time and dark current shows that such devices can be operated at room temperature with bandwidths up to 10 GHz in a back-side illuminated configuration. This configuration allows to use micro-lenses fabricated directly into the APD substrate and enables to use a large photosensitive area while maintaining a high bandwidth, low dark current and /or high operating temperature. We report on the expected performance 4-quadrant APD detector demonstrator with single photon sensitivity, which is currently developed to be used in deep space telecommunications by ESA and present the potential use for high data rates links of 10 Gbits/s.
Johan Rothman, Pierre Bleuet, Luc Andre, Quentin Abadie, Geoffroy Bordot, Sylvette Bisotto, Guillaume Audoit, Jean-Alain Nicolas, Bertrand Dupont, Jean-Pierre Rostand, and Gilles Lasfargues, "HgCdTe APDs for free space optical communications," Proc. SPIE 10524, Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXX, 1052411 (Presented at SPIE LASE: January 30, 2018; Published: 15 February 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2286474.
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