Over the past 20 years, we have developed arrays of custom-fabricated silicon and InP Geiger-mode avalanche photodiode arrays, CMOS readout circuits to digitally count or time stamp single-photon detection events, and techniques to integrate these two components to make back-illuminated solid-state image sensors for lidar, optical communications, and passive imaging. Starting with 4 × 4 arrays, we have recently demonstrated 256 × 256 arrays, and are working to scale to megapixel-class imagers. In this paper, we review this progress and discuss key technical challenges to scaling to large format.
Arrays of photon-counting Geiger-mode avalanche photodiodes (APDs) sensitive to 1.06 and 1.55 μm wavelengths and as large as 256 x 64 elements on 50 μm pitch have been fabricated for defense applications. As array size, and element density increase, optical crosstalk becomes an increasingly limiting source of spurious counts. We characterize the crosstalk by measurement of emitted light, and by extracting the spatial and temporal focal plane array (FPA) response
to the light from FPA dark count statistics. We discuss the physical and geometrical causes of FPA crosstalk, suggest metrics useful to system designers, then present measured crosstalk metrics for large FPAs as a function of their operating parameters. We then present FPA designs that suppress crosstalk effects and show more than 40 times reduction in crosstalk.
Arrays of InP-based avalanche photodiodes operating at 1.06-μm wavelength in the Geiger mode have been
fabricated in the 128x32 format. The arrays have been hermetically packaged with precision-aligned lenslet arrays,
bump-bonded read-out integrated circuits, and thermoelectric coolers. With the array cooled to -20C and voltage biased
so that optical cross-talk is small, the median photon detection efficiency is 23-25% and the median dark count rate is 2
kHz. With slightly higher voltage overbias, optical cross-talk increases but the photon detection efficiency increases to
almost 30%. These values of photon detection efficiency include the optical coupling losses of the microlens array and