Abstract

In free space optical communication, photodetectors serve not only as communications receivers but also as position sensitive detectors (PSDs) for pointing, tracking, and stabilization. Typically, two separate detectors are utilized to perform these tasks, but recent advances in the fabrication and development of large-area, low-noise avalanche photodiode (APD) arrays have enabled these devices to be used both as PSDs and as communications receivers. This combined functionality allows for more flexibility and simplicity in optical system design without sacrificing the sensitivity and bandwidth performance of smaller, single-element data receivers. This work presents the development of APD arrays rated for bandwidths beyond 1 GHz with measured carrier ionization ratios of approximately 0.2 at moderate APD gains. We discuss the fabrication and characterization of three types of APD arrays along with their performance as high-speed photodetectors.

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