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Develop Small Pitch Geiger Mode Avalanche Photodiode Detector Arrays for Multifunction LiDAR Receivers



OBJECTIVE: Design, fabricate, and test small format GMAPD arrays for multifunction LiDAR cameras operating in direct detection and coherent sensing applications supporting Global Precision Attach (GPA) or Globally Integrated Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (GIISR) mission types. The arrays will operate at a 2 um wavelength, capable of operating without sizable cooing requirements with a goal of room temperature operation. 

DESCRIPTION: Recent advances in semiconductor development for Geiger mode avalanche photodiode (GMAPD) light detection and ranging (LiDAR) readout integrated circuits (ROIC) have provided means to reduce effective area of an individual pixel through improvements in detection circuit design and smaller semiconductor design rules. Typical SWIR detector designs for imaging LiDAR sensors operate below 1.7 um wavelengths, except for few designs which incorporate cryogenic cooling in order to maintain detection sensitivity. This topic seeks to develop small pitch, large format detector arrays capable of operating at a 2 um wavelength, with LiDAR functionality, without the need for physically sizable cooling. Thermoelectric cooling may be implemented for temperature control, with a goal of > 250 °K operating temperatures. Detector development should include physics-based modeling of the device structure in order to determine performance expectations and to aid in camera component development. Iterative design experiments are expected in order to yield insight into device physics. The detector arrays should be of a 32 x 32 format and scalable to larger formats, arrays with pixel pitch of 100 um with additional arrays of 50 um pitch and scalable to smaller pixel pitch, electrical connection at the pixel level with a metal pad on the APD, common anode or common cathode connections along 2 sides of the array, capable of operation at < 5 V above breakdown, capable of conducting pixel current while minimizing crosstalk and other noise effects across the array, and maximizing effective quantum efficiency. Laboratory testing of the detector arrays will be necessary in order to determine sensitivity and noise performance, and characterization of arrays’ performance is required. The detector arrays may be bonded to existing ROICs in order to fabricate laboratory-class LiDAR receivers, and provide a path toward fabrication of large format LiDAR receivers. Bonding of the detector arrays to fanout test fixtures and characterization of the detectors is desired. The following are design goals for a full receiver: LiDAR functionality, detection wavelength between 2.0 to 2.1 um, single photon detection, low dark count rate, operability of > 99%, nominal probability of detection (PDE) of ≥ 25% at a corresponding dark count rate of < 100 kHz with goal of < 10 kHz, uniformity of PDE and DCR across the array, sample bin interval of less than 1.5 nsec for direct detection modes, minimal quench and rearm duration supporting asynchronous operation in Geiger mode, and the ability to operate without cryo-cooling. The goal of the effort is to develop detectors for a Geiger mode LiDAR system which would provide data to generate 3-D point clouds and other data products. Detector cooling and power requirements can drive CSWaP of a full camera. Cooling, size, weight, and power (CSWaP) for the receiver would need to be considered for the final design, where insertion into a small UAV, existing targeting pod, or turret as a goal. Government furnished equipment is not required for this project. 

PHASE I: Develop design ideas for detectors, APD arrays, laboratory test configurations, and test plans for characterization of the devices. Develop a program plan, SOW, and performance expectations for the small format receiver in Phase II. Develop a commercialization plan. 

PHASE II: Design, fabricate, test and characterize small (32x32) format detector arrays incorporating 100 um pitch and 50 um pitch detectors. Provide laboratory test results, details of test methods. Deliverables include small format detector arrays with supporting electronics for laboratory testing. Develop a program plan, SOW, and performance expectations for a LiDAR receiver capable of insertion into SUAV’s, targeting pod, or turret. 

PHASE III: Design, develop, and test a LiDAR receiver capable of flight testing in an airborne laboratory type environment. Develop a program plan to integrate into an aerial platform and perform flight testing. Work with a system integrator to integrate into surrogate test platform, and perform flight demonstrations. 


1. E. Duerr, et. al., “Antimonide-based Geiger-mode Avalanche Photodiodes for SWIR and MWIR Photon-counting”, Proc. SPIE 7681, Advanced Photon Counting Techniques IV, 76810Q (28 April 2010; 2. J. Campbell, “Recent Advances in Avalanche Photodiodes”, IEEE Journal of Lightwave Technology Vol. 34, 6 July 2015; 3. Mark A. Itzler ; Mark Entwistle ; Mark Owens ; Ketan Patel ; Xudong Jiang ; Krystyna Slomkowski ; Sabbir Rangwala ; Peter F. Zalud ; Tom Senko ; John Tower ; Joseph Ferraro; Design and performance of single photon APD focal plane arrays for 3-D LADAR imaging. Proc. SPIE 7780, Detectors and Imaging Devices: Infrared, Focal Plane, Single Photon, 77801M (August 17, 2010); 4. R. Sidhu, L. Zhang, N. Tan, N. Duan, J.C. Campbell, A.L. Holmes, Jr., C.-F. Hsu and M.A. Itzler, “2.4 lm cutoff wavelength avalanche photodiode on InP substrate”, IEEE Electronics Letters Vol. 42, 2 Feb. 2006

KEYWORDS: LADAR, LiDAR, APD, Geiger Mode Lidar 

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