28 May 2014 HgCdTe e-APD detector arrays with single photon sensitivity for space lidar applications
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Abstract
A multi-element HgCdTe electron initiated avalanche photodiode (e-APD) array has been developed for space lidar. The detector array was fabricated with 4.3μm cutoff HgCdTe with a spectral response from 0.4 to 4.3 μm. We have demonstrated a 4x4 e-APD array with 80 μm square elements followed by a custom cryogenic CMOS read-out integrated circuit (ROIC). The device operates at 77K inside a small closed-cycle cooler-Dewar with the support electronics integrated in a field programmable gate array. Measurements showed a unity gain quantum efficiency of about 90% at 1.5-1.6 μm wavelength. The bulk dark current of the HgCdTe e-APD at 77K was less than 50,000 input referred electrons/s at 12 V APD bias where the APD gain was 620 and the measured noise equivalent power (NEP) was 0.4 fW/Hz1/2. The electrical bandwidth of the device was about 6 MHz, mostly limited by the ROIC, but sufficient for the lidar application. Although the devices were designed for low bandwidth pulse detections, the high gain and low dark current enabled them to be used for single photon detections. Because the APD was biased below the break-down voltage, the output is linear to the input signal and there were no nonlinear effect such as dead-time and afterpulsing, and no need for gated operation. A new series of HgCdTe e-APDs have also been developed with a much wider bandwidth ROIC and higher APD gain, which is expected to give a much better performance in single photon detections.
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Xiaoli Sun, James B. Abshire, Jeffrey D. Beck, "HgCdTe e-APD detector arrays with single photon sensitivity for space lidar applications", Proc. SPIE 9114, Advanced Photon Counting Techniques VIII, 91140K (28 May 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2053757; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2053757
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