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5 May 2016 Low noise, free running, high rate photon counting for space communication and ranging
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communication and ranging. NASA GSFC is testing the performance of two types of novel photon-counting detectors 1) a 2x8 mercury cadmium telluride (HgCdTe) avalanche array made by DRS Inc., and a 2) a commercial 2880-element silicon avalanche photodiode (APD) array. We successfully measured real-time communication performance using both the 2 detected-photon threshold and logic AND-gate coincidence methods. Use of these methods allows mitigation of dark count, after-pulsing and background noise effects without using other method of Time Gating The HgCdTe APD array routinely demonstrated very high photon detection efficiencies (>50%) at near infrared wavelength. The commercial silicon APD array exhibited a fast output with rise times of 300 ps and pulse widths of 600 ps. On-chip individually filtered signals from the entire array were multiplexed onto a single fast output. NASA GSFC has tested both detectors for their potential application for space communications and ranging. We developed and compare their space communication and ranging performances using both the 2 detected photon threshold and coincidence methods.
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Wei Lu, Michael A. Krainak, Guangning Yang, Xiaoli Sun, and Scott Merritt "Low noise, free running, high rate photon counting for space communication and ranging", Proc. SPIE 9858, Advanced Photon Counting Techniques X, 98580T (5 May 2016);

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