Tiny avalanche photodiode detects single ultraviolet photons

January 30, 2008, Evanston, IL--Researchers at Northwestern University's Center for Quantum Devices have demonstrated visible-blind avalanche photodiodes capable of detecting single photons in the ultraviolet region (360-200 nm).

Previously, photomultiplier tubes were the only available technology in the short wavelength UV portion of the spectrum capable of single photon detection sensitivity. However, these fragile vacuum tube devices are expensive and bulky, hindering true systems miniaturization.

The Northwestern team, led by Manijeh Razeghi, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering, became the world's first to demonstrate back-illuminated single photon detection from a III-nitride photodetector. These back-illuminated devices, based on GaN compound semiconductors, benefit from the larger ionization coefficient for holes in this material. The back-illumination geometry will facilitate future integration of these devices with read-out circuitry to realize unique single-photon UV cameras. Towards that end, the team has already demonstrated excellent uniformity of the breakdown characteristics and gain across the wafer.

The devices are coupled with a quenching circuit and operated under large reverse bias, an arrangement termed in Geiger mode operation. The sensor system presents an effective photocurrent gain greater than 107, single photon detection efficiencies of 23%, dark count rates of less than 1 kHz, and no response to visible radiation.

Once optimized, discrete detectors could be combined with the ultraviolet LEDs already pioneered by the Center for Quantum Devices to create an inexpensive detection system capable of identifying the unique spectral fingerprints of a biological agent attack. They can also be paired with UV LEDs to create a new form of non-line of sight UV-communication, secure from remote eavesdropping.

50 YEARS OF SOLID-STATE LASERS


A long way from the ruby laser

Most Popular Articles

Webcasts

Multichannel Spectroscopy: Technology and Applications

This webcast, sponsored by Hamamatsu, highlights some of the photonic technology used in spectroscopy, and the resulting applications.

Handheld Spectrometers

Spectroscopy is a powerful and versatile tool that traditionally often required a large and bulky instrument. The combination of compact optics and modern pa...

Fracking, climate change, and lasers:  new tools to reduce fugitive methane emissions

This webcast, sponsored by Hamamatsu Corporation, covers recent developments and field deployments of compact quantum-cascade-laser (QCL)-based methane senso...

Opportunities in the Mid-IR

The technology for exploiting the mid-IR is developing rapidly:  it includes quantum-cascade lasers and other sources, spectroscopic instruments of many...
White Papers

Narrow-line fiber-coupled modules for DPAL pumping

A new series of fiber coupled diode laser modules optimized for DPAL pumping is presented, featur...

Accurate LED Source Modeling Using TracePro

Modern optical modeling programs allow product design engineers to create, analyze, and optimize ...

Optical Isolators Improve Engraving Performance of Pulsed Fiber Lasers

The deleterious effects of back reflections on pulsed fiber lasers used in marking and engraving ...
Technical Digests

ADHESIVES, SEALANTS, AND COATINGS: Solutions for optical technologies

A vast array of optical systems of various types and degrees of complexity require the use of adh...

WAVELENGTH-SWEPT LASERS: Dispersion-tuned fiber laser sweeps over a 140 nm range for OCT

By eliminating the use of mechanical tunable filters and instead tuning by intensity-modulation i...

Keeping pace with developments in photonic materials research

For demanding or custom spectroscopy solutions, care must be taken in selecting and integrating a...

HIGH-POWER FIBER LASERS: Working in the kilowatt regime

High-power materials-processing fiber lasers are available in an increasing variety of forms, as ...

Click here to have your products listed in the Laser Focus World Buyers Guide.
Social Activity
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Copyright © 2007-2014. PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK. All Rights Reserved.PRIVACY POLICY | TERMS AND CONDITIONS