For high-bit-rate long-haul fiber optic communications, the avalanche photodiode (APD) is frequently the photodetector of choice owing to its internal gain, which provides a sensitivity margin relative to PIN photodiodes. APDs can achieve 5–10-dB better sensitivity than PINs, provided that the multiplication noise is low and the gain-bandwidth product is sufficiently high. In the past decade, the performance of APDs for optical fiber communication systems has improved as a result of improvements in materials and the development of advanced device structures. This paper presents a brief review of APD fundamentals and describes some of the significant advances.
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