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4 March 2016 A Monte Carlo simulator for noise analysis of avalanche photodiode pixels in low-light image sensing
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Noise performance of avalanche photodiodes in light detection is typically described by the excessive noise factor, taking into account only the increase of the variance of the output electron count distribution with respect to the input. This approach is attractive since the excessive noise factor, together with the avalanche gain, can easily be included into the signal-to-noise ratio expression of the complete detection chain. For low-light applications down to single-photon counting, that description is typically not sufficient since one is also interested in the higher moments of the output distribution. Analytical derivation of the output electron count distributions of avalanche photodiodes is typically possible only for very simple electric field profile approximations, which is often not a sufficient description of reality. This work presents a Monte Carlo simulator for numerical prediction of the output distribution that can be applied to any arbitrary electric field profile as well as any light absorption profile and therefore serve as a useful tool for device design and optimization. Comparison with the standard McIntyre theory is provided for a constant field profile showing good agreement. Furthermore, the presented method is used to predict the avalanche noise performance of the recently presented pinned avalanche photodiode pixel (PAPD) with the electric field profile extracted from a finite-element simulation. The pixel is aiming for improvements in high-speed and low-light level image detection in minimally-modified CMOS image sensor technology.
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Tomislav Resetar, Andreas Süss, Elke Vermandere, Bogdan Karpiak, Robert Puers, and Chris Van Hoof "A Monte Carlo simulator for noise analysis of avalanche photodiode pixels in low-light image sensing", Proc. SPIE 9742, Physics and Simulation of Optoelectronic Devices XXIV, 974207 (4 March 2016);

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