InP-based Single Photon Detectors with Active Negative Feedback

Period of Performance: 05/24/2010 - 07/31/2012


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Princeton Lightwave, Inc.
2555 Route 130 South, Suite 1
Cranbury , NJ 08512
Principal Investigator


From the perspective of performance, reliability, and cost, the most practical photodetector available today with single photon sensitivity between 1.0 and 1.6 ìm is the InGaAs/InP single photon avalanche diode (SPAD). However, even the best InP-based SPADs generally have photon counting rates limited to less than 10 MHz. For applications ranging from quantum information science to covert short-wave infrared imaging, single photon detectors with much faster counting rates in the range of 100 MHz 1 GHz will be essential. A primary shortcoming of conventional SPADs is the positive feedback inherent in their avalanche dynamics and performance degradation associated with it. We propose to radically improve upon these structures by monolithically integrating negative feedback elements to create negative feedback avalanche diodes (NFADs) with self-limiting avalanches exhibiting highly deterministic gain values. Self-limited avalanches will greatly reduce latency problems caused by afterpulsing, offering the potential for repetition rates exceeding 100 MHz, and highly deterministic gains will provide much lower excess noise. NFAD device operation will also be greatly simplified relative to SPADs since NFADs can be operated with just a simple dc bias. Based on work done in Phase I, we have defined two design concepts for incorporating negative feedback using InP-based active elements, and in Phase II we will monolithically integrated these elements with our existing state-of-the-art SPAD structures. The multiplexing of multiple active NFADs into matrix formats will allow us to increase of photon counting rates beyond 1 GHz and to achieve photon number resolution.