A new family of photodetectors with a Discrete Amplification (DA) mechanism allows the realization of very high gain
and low excess noise factor in the visible and near infrared spectral regions and offers an alternative to conventional
photomultiplier tubes and Geiger mode avalanche photodetectors. These photodetectors can operate in linear detection
mode with gain-bandwidth product in excess of 4X1014 and in photon counting mode with count rates up to 108
counts/sec. Potential benefits of this technology over conventional avalanche photodetectors include ultra low excess
noise factor, very high gain, and lower reset time (<< 1 μs). In the photon counting mode, the devices can be operated in
the non-gated mode under a constant dc bias. Because of its unique characteristics of self-quenching and self-recovery,
no external quenching circuit is needed.
We present the discrete amplification design approach used for the development of a solid state photomultiplier in the
near infrared wavelength region. The demonstrated device performance far exceeds any available solid state
photodetectors in the near infrared wavelength range. The measured devices have the following performance
characteristics: gain > 2X105, excess noise factor < 1.05, rise time < 350ps, fall time < 500ps, dark current < 2X106 cps,
operating voltage < 60V. These devices are ideal for researchers in the field of deep space optical communication,
spectroscopy, industrial and scientific instrumentation, Ladar/Lidar, quantum cryptography, night vision and other
military, defence and aerospace applications.