NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Long Range Optical Telecommunications
PROPOSAL TITLE:High Performance Avalanche Photodiodes for Photon Counting at 1064 nm

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Princeton Lightwave Inc
2555 Route 130 South, Suite 1
Cranbury ,NJ 08512 - 3509
(609) 495 - 2600

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mark   Itzler
2555 Route 130 South, Suite 1
Cranbury, NJ  08512 -3509
(609) 495 - 2551

The need for higher performance fiber optic telecommunications receivers has provided the impetus for substantial progress during the last decade in the understanding and performance of InP-based linear mode avalanche photodiodes (APDs) for the wavelength range from 1.0 to 1.7 um. However, these advances have not been paralleled in the performance and availability of single photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) based on similar design and materials platforms. Moreover, the vast majority of the activity in this field has been focused on optimizing devices for telecommunications wavelengths in the vicinity of 1550 nm, and there has been very little work on devices for use at 1064 nm. For this SBIR program, we propose to apply innovative design concepts for the development of high performance SPADs optimized for 1064 nm applications. In particular, we will implement a novel bandgap engineering approach to tailor the SPAD avalanche gain properties to realize higher single photon detection efficiency while maintaining the very low dark count rates that are made possible by optimizing the absorption region design for the detection of 1064 nm photons. We will also apply design concepts that we have innovated during the course of developing state-of-the-art 1550 nm SPADs that involve optimization of the device electric profile for photon counting as well as epitaxial layer compositions. These efforts will culminate in 1064 nm large area detectors (with active area diameters up to 500 um) that demonstrate feasibility in meeting SPAD performance targets including 50% detection efficiency, bandwidth of 500 MHz, saturation levels of 50 Mcounts/s, and non-gated operation.

There are two primary NASA applications for the high performance InP-based 1064 nm SPADs to be developed during this proposed SBIR program. First, free-space optical communications to support space missions requires receivers based on single photon detection, and improved SPADs developed in the context of this program will benefit NASA efforts to demonstrate and deploy high-speed laser communication links between spacecraft and earth terminals. Second, active remote sensing optical instruments require higher performance SPADs to improve the performance of existing direct detection doppler lidar systems that make use of aerosol backscattering at 1064 nm.

There are a number of potential non-NASA commercial applications that will benefit from the development of high-performance large-area 1064 nm SPADs. Range-finding and ladar applications present opportunities that encompass both single element detectors for remote sensing and ranging and high performance photon counting detector arrays to obtain three-dimensional imaging. Just as NASA is pursuing free space optical links at 1064 nm, commercial FSO systems will be able to leverage improvements realized from the development of large area 1064 nm SPADs for photon-starved free space links such as those required in satellite communcations. As with NASA remote sensing applications, there are commercial applications for improved SPADs in various types of lidar systems for measuring atmospheric properties such as wind and weather patterns, air pollution, and general trace gas analysis. Finally, high-performance photon counting capability in the near-infrared is desirable for the detection of low light output fluorescence, photoluminescence and photoemission processes. Fluorescence techniques are widely used in biomedical applications, and the availability of higher performance SPADs at 1064 nm will be critical to enabling techniques at this wavelength.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Optical & Photonic Materials
Semi-Conductors/Solid State Device Materials

Form Printed on 09-19-05 13:12