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15 March 2016 Impact ionization engineered avalanche photodiode arrays for free space optical communication
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High sensitivity photodetectors serve two purposes in free space optical communication: data reception and position sensing for pointing, tracking, and stabilization. Because of conflicting performance criteria, two separate detectors are traditionally utilized to perform these tasks but recent advances in the fabrication and development of large area, low noise avalanche photodiode (APD) arrays have enabled these devices to be used both as position sensitive detectors (PSD) and as communications receivers. Combining these functionalities allows for more flexibility and simplicity in optical assembly design without sacrificing the sensitivity and bandwidth performance of smaller, single element data receivers. Beyond eliminating the need to separate the return beam into two separate paths, these devices enable implementation of adaptive approaches to compensate for focal plane beam wander and breakup often seen in highly scintillated terrestrial and maritime optical links. While the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and Optogration Inc, have recently demonstrated the performance of single period, InAlAs/InGaAs APD arrays as combined data reception and tracking sensors, an impact ionization engineered (I2E) epilayer design achieves even lower carrier ionization ratios by incorporating multiple multiplication periods engineered to suppress lower ionization rate carriers while enhancing the higher ionization rate carriers of interest. This work presents a three period I2E concentric, five element avalanche photodiode array rated for bandwidths beyond 1GHz with measured carrier ionization ratios of 0.05-0.1 at moderate APD gains. The epilayer design of the device will be discussed along with initial device characterization and high speed performance measurements.
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Mike S. Ferraro, William S. Rabinovich, William R. Clark, William D. Waters, Joe C. Campbell, Rita Mahon, Kenneth Vaccaro, and Brian D. Krejca "Impact ionization engineered avalanche photodiode arrays for free space optical communication", Proc. SPIE 9739, Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXVIII, 97390S (15 March 2016);

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