Advanced threat warning technology will begin to play a more significant role for homeland defense and national security. Of particular concern are landing and take-off patterns of slow moving commercial airliners here and abroad. Recognizing this vulnerability has triggered renewed interest in high sensitivity internal gain optical detectors and two dimensional arrays. Avalanche photo-detectors are the most highly sought after low-noise, high-gain photo sensors. They are being developed for highly sensitive laser detection and ranging receiver systems in autonomous munitions and for data communications (for example) and will be the “eyes” of modern commercial threat warning systems.

This paper reviews several laser detection and ranging technologies related to threat warning scenarios and the corresponding requirements placed on avalanche photo-detectors. Performance of commercial and experimental avalanche photo-detectors will be discussed. Recent results on large format InAlAs avalanche photo-detector arrays fabricated by the authors will also be presented.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

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