Laser detection and ranging (LADAR)-based systems operating in the Near Infrared (NIR) and Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) have become popular optical sensors for remote sensing, medical, and environmental applications. Sophisticated laser-based radar and weapon systems used for long-range military and astronomical applications need to detect, recognize, and track a variety of targets under a wide spectrum of atmospheric conditions. Infrared APDs play an important role in LADAR systems by integrating the detection and gain stages in a single device. Robust silicon-APDs are limited to visible and very near infrared region (< 1 um), while InGaAs works well up to wavelengths of about 1.5um. Si APDs have low multiplication or excess noise but are limited to below 1um due very poor quantum efficiency above 0.8um. InGaAs and Ge APDs operate up to wavelengths of 1.5um but have poor multiplication or excess noise due to a low impact ionization coefficient ratio between electrons and holes. For the past several decades HgCdTe has been traditionally used in longer wavelength (> 3um) infrared photon detection applications. Recently, various research groups (including Ghosh et. al.) have reported SWIR and MWIR HgCdTe APDs on CdZnTe and Si substrates. However, HgCdTe APDs suffer from low breakdown fields due to material defects, and excess noise increases significantly at high electric fields.
During the past decade, InAs/GaSb Strain Layer Superlattice (SLS) material system has emerged as a potential material for the entire infrared spectrum because of relatively easier growth, comparable absorption coefficients, lower tunneling currents and longer Auger lifetimes resulting in enhanced detectivities (D*). Band engineering in type II SLS allows us to engineer avalanche properties of electrons and holes. This is a great advantage over bulk InGaAs and HgCdTe APDs where engineering avalanche properties is not possible.
The talk will discuss the evolution of superlattice based avalanche photodiodes and some of the recent results on the work being done at Raytheon on SWIR avalanche photodiodes.
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