In this paper, we describe the basic operation of the Geiger mode APD array as a lasercom detector, concentrating on aspects relevant to the link design engineer (rather than, for example, describing the details of the physics of the basic device operation itself). Equations are developed that describe the effects of defocus and hold-off time on the relation between the number of photons detected by the array and the output of photo-electron counts. We show how to incorporate these equations into a link budget. The resulting predictions are validated by comparison against simulation results.
Finally, we compare the performance of linear mode APD based receivers and Geiger mode APD array based receivers. Results show the Geiger mode receivers yield better performance, in terms of probability of bit error, at lower signal levels, except on links where there is an exceptionally large amount of background noise. Under those conditions, not surprisingly, the hold-off time degrades performance.