Title: Wide-bandwidth near-infrared avalanche photodiode
Primary Author:
Krainak, Michael
Organization: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Co-Author(s): Guangning Yang, Xiaoli Sun, Wei Lu - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center;
Xiaogang Bai, Ping Yuan, Paul McDonald, Joseph Boisvert, Robyn Woo, Kam Wan, Rengarajan Sudharsanan - Boeing Spectrolab

Ultra-sensitive near-infrared optical receivers are required for active optical instruments. The NRC Earth science decadal lidar-based missions including ICESat2, DESDynI, LIST, ASCENDS, ACE and 3D-WINDS and Satellite Laser Ranging will all greatly benefit from high quantum efficiency, very low-noise (near single photon sensitive) optical receivers. Improvements in detector quantum efficiency translate directly to reduced laser energy requirements for active laser instruments. This minimizes spacecraft resource requirements (mass, power, volume) and greatly enhances laser and system reliability.

Spectrolab and NASA-GSFC are developing a high performance linear mode InAlAs avalanche photodiodes (APD) operating at 1.06 µm. The APD detector will be integrated with transimpedance amplifiers (TIAs) and assembled into a receiver. The overall bandwidth will be greater than 1 GHz, while the noise-equivalent-power (NEP) is reduced to less than 300 fW/√Hz. To minimize the dark current and noise, an InAlGaAs quaternary absorber is being used for high quantum efficiency at 1.06 µm.

The high bandwidth detectors are compatible with newly developed very short pulse (< 1 nanosecond) high-repetition rate (10 kHz) high efficiency (> 15% wall-plug) lasers.