We present innovative planar geometry Ge-on-Si single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) detectors. These devices provide picosecond timing resolution for applications operating in the short-wave infrared wavelength region such as quantum communication technologies and three-dimensional imaging. This new planar design successfully reduces the undesirable contribution of surface defects to the dark current. This has allowed for the use of large excess biases, resulting in a single-photon detection efficiency of 38% when operated at 125 K using 1310 nm wavelength illumination. A record low noise equivalent power of 2 × 10-16 WHz-1/2 was achieved, more than a fifty-fold improvement compared to the previous best Ge-on-Si mesa geometry SPADs when operated under similar conditions. These Ge-on-Si SPAD detectors have operated in the range of 77 K to 175 K, and we will discuss ways in which the operating temperature can be raised to that consistent with Peltier cooling. We will present analysis of Ge-on-Si SPADs, which has revealed much reduced afterpulsing compared with SPAD detectors in other material systems. Laboratory trials have demonstrated these Ge-on-Si SPAD devices in short-range LIDAR and depth profiling measurements. Estimations of the performance of these detectors in longer range measurements will be presented. We will discuss the potential for the development of high efficiency arrays of Ge-on-Si SPADs for the use in eye-safe automotive LIDAR and quantum technology applications.