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InGaAs-based SWIR photodetectors for night vision and gated viewing

: Rutz, Frank; Aidam, Rolf; Bächle, Andreas; Heussen, Henning; Bronner, Wolfgang; Rehm, Robert; Benecke, Matthias; Sieck, Alexander; Brunner, S.; Göhler, Benjamin; Lutzmann, Peter


Huckridge, David A. (Hrsg.) ; Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers -SPIE-, Bellingham/Wash.:
Electro-Optical and Infrared Systems: Technology and Applications XV : 10-13 September 2018, Berlin, Germany
Bellingham, WA: SPIE, 2018 (Proceedings of SPIE 10795)
Paper 1079503, 9 S.
Conference Electro-Optical and Infrared Systems - Technology and Applications <15, 2018, Berlin>
Fraunhofer IAF ()
Fraunhofer IOSB ()
InGaAs; SWIR; photodetector; avalanche photodiode; APD; night vision; gated viewing; focal plane array

High-performance short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) photodetectors can be realized in the InGaAs material system, providing a typical cutoff wavelength of 1.7 μm, which covers a wide part of the nightglow spectrum as well as the emission lines of available laser sources at typical telecom wavelengths around 1.55 μm. However, both, active and passive SWIR detection systems are mostly required to provide high responsivities and very low dark currents in order to detect extremely low photon fluxes. This can be achieved with pin photodiodes with high responsivities and very low dark current characteristics or by utilizing the internal signal gain as provided by avalanche photodiodes (APDs). We develop SWIR photodetectors based on InGaAs/InP pin diodes and InGaAs/InAlAs/InP APDs as single-element detectors as well as focal plane arrays (FPAs). The planar processed InGaAs/InP pin photodiodes for low-light-level SWIR cameras exhibit dark current densities of 10-7 A/cm2 at room temperature for 15 μm pitch detector elements. For the APDs, emphasis is put on the vertical detector design. Within three design iterations, the operating voltage for useful gain values M ~ 10 could be reduced from 27 V down to 18 V, which was crucial for the operation with the voltage limitation of the read-out circuit. FPAs of such InGaAs-APD material have been successfully integrated into SWIR cameras with 640 × 512 pixels at 15 μm pixel pitch. The avalanche operation on camera level has been demonstrated for both kinds, the standard (passive) as well as gated-viewing operation modes.