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Study of Afterpulsing in InP-based Single Photon Avalanche Diodes for 1.5 m and 1.06 m Photon Counting Applications
Xudong Jiang*, Mark A. Itzler, Bruce Nyman, Rafael Ben-Michael, and Krystyna Slomkowski Princeton Lightwave Inc., 2555 US Route 130 S., Cranbury, NJ 08512 USA *xjiang@princetonlightwave.com AbstractAfterpulsing effects in InP-based single photon avalanche diodes have been studied both experimentally and theoretically. Characterization methods include both gated and freerunning operation, and afterpulsing dependence on count rate is reported for both methods. Single photon detectors are key components for a wide range of applications at near infrared (NIR) wavelengths between 1.0 and 1.6 m. InP-based single photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) provide a highly effective detector solution in numerous situations, such as quantum key distribution at telecom wavelength (1.31 and 1.55 m), and lidar and ranging at 1.06 m. However, the performance of InP-based SPADs is seriously limited by afterpulsing. This phenomenon occurs when carriers are trapped at material defects during an avalanche event and cause subsequent avalanches when they are de-trapped after the SPAD has been re-armed.. We have performed experimental and theoretical studies to investigate the many factors that impact afterpulsing, including material quality, operating conditions (temperature, bias, gated or free-running mode), and quenching method. Both gated operation and freerunning operation with active quenching circuit have been used to characterize the afterpulsing behavior. Modeling has been done in conjunction with the experimental work. In this paper, we present the results of these experimental and theoretical investigations on afterpulsing in InP-based SPADs for both 1.55 m and 1.06 m photon counting. Our 1.55 m and 1.06 m SPADs are planar structures, and our device design platform is based on a separate absorption, grading, charge, and multiplication structure [1]. The multiplication region is an InP layer, and the absorption region is optimized for use at either 1.55 m (InGaAs lattice-matched to InP) or 1.06 m (InGaAsP latticematched to InP with ~1200 nm cutoff wavelength). Figure 1 shows the measured and calculated afterpulsing probability per light pulse for a 1.55 m SPAD with a 25 m diameter at 212 K under gated operation with gate width of 1 ns and a mean photon number per pulse of 0.1. As can be seen from this figure, the afterpulsing probability increases with overbias: as more avalanche carriers flow through the multiplication region with increased overbias, more carriers are trapped and afterpulsing is exacerbated. Increased repetition rate causes the afterpulsing probability to increase significantly under the same overbias since trapped carriers have less time to de-trap before the device is rearmed.
Afterpulsing Probability/light pulse
1E+0 1E-1 1E-2 1E-3 1E-4 1E-5 1E-6 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 1 MHz 5 MHz

500 kHz

Overbias (V)

Fig. 1. Measured (symbols) and calculated (solid lines) afterpulsing probability per light pulse for a 1.55 m SPAD with 25 m diameter at 212 K under gated operation with 1 ns gate width and mean photon number per pulse of 0.1. Three different repetition rates (500 kHz, 1 MHz and 5 MHz) have been used.

Figure 2 shows the calculated dependence of the afterpulsing probability per light pulse for two different overbias [Fig. 2(a)] and three different pulse widths [Fig. 2(b)]. The overbias in the calculation of (b) is 2.5 V. Experimental results with 1 ns pulse width and the corresponding overbias are shown in the figure as well. As can be seen from Fig. 2, with the increase of overbias and pulse width, the magnitude of afterpulsing probability increases at any given repetition rate, and the repetition rate needed to reach a specific afterpulsing probability decreases. This is due to the effect of increased number of primary carriers flowing through the multiplication region with the increase of overbias and pulse width. Figure 3 shows the measured and calculated dark count rate (DCR) vs. photon detection efficiency (PDE) for three different temperatures [Fig. 3(a)] and measured and calculated dependence of DCR and PDE on overbias at 237 K for a 1.06 m SPAD with diameter of 80 m [Fig. 3(b)]. The measurement was performed using 1-ns gated-mode operation at 500 kHz repetition rate using a 1.06 m pulsed diode laser source. The afterpulsing effect is negligible in this gated mode measurement, which can be used to characterize the intrinsic DCR and PDE.

1-4244-0925-X/07/$25.00 2007 IEEE

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Afterpulsing Probability/light pulse

Afterpulsing Probability/light pulse

1E-1 1E-2 1E-3 1E-4 1E-5 1E-6 1E-7 1E-8 1E+4 (a) 1E+5 1E+6 1E+7 Overbias=2.5 V

1E+0 1E-1 1E-2 1E-3 1E-4 1E-5 1E-6 1E-7 1E-8 1E+4 1E+5 1E+6 (b) 1E+7 1 ns 100 ns 10 ns

Overbias=1.5 V

Repetition Rate (Hz)

Repetition Rate (Hz)

Fig. 2. Calculated dependence of afterpulsing probability per light pulse for (a) two different overbias and (b) three different pulse widths (with overbias of 2.5 V). Experimental results (symbols) with 1 ns pulse width are also shown.
1E+4 259 K 250 K 1E+3

1E +4 T=2 37 K 1E +3

D C R m e a s u re d d a ta

0 .6 0 .5 0 .4

Dark Count Rate (Hz)

DCR (Hz)

237 K

PDE

1E +2

D C R s im u la tio n P D E m e a s u re d d a t a

0 .3 0 .2

1E+2

1E +1
(a ) 1E+1 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%

0 .1 1E +0 P D E s im u la t io n 0 0 .5 1 1 .5 2 2.5 3 3 .5 (b ) 0 4

P h o to n D e te c tio n E ffic ie n c y

O v e rb ia s (V )

Fig. 3. Measured (symbols) and calculated (solid lines) DCR vs. PDE for (a) three different temperatures and (b) as function of over bias at 237 K for a 1.06 m SPAD with 80 m diameter.

Free-running measurements were implemented with a commercially available active quenching circuit (AQC) [2] to measure the count rate vs. photon flux for an 80 m diameter 1.06 m SPAD. Figure 4(a) illustrates the dependence of count rate on photon flux with three different hold-off times for a fixed overbias at 250 K. Figure 4(b) shows the extracted nominal and intrinsic detection efficiency versus photon flux. As can be seen from Fig. 4(a), when the hold-off time is changed from 200 ns to 460 ns, the dark count rate decreases by ~ 6 times. This clearly indicates that a large fraction of dark counts for 200 ns hold-off time are afterpulses. This is confirmed by an analysis yielding the results in Fig. 4(b), where the apparent detection efficiency is significantly higher than the intrinsic DE.
1E+7

"Apparent" and Intrinsic DE (%)

Count Rate (Hz)

1E+6 1E+5 1E+4 1E+3

136 ns hold off time 200 ns hold off time 460 ns hold off time

250 K fixed bias

7% 6% 5% 4% 3% 2% 1% 0% 0 100 200 300 400 500 intrinsic DE (b) apparent DE

decreasing hold off (a)

1E+2 1E-1 1E+0 1E+1 1E+2 1E+3 1E+4 1E+5 1E+6 1E+7 1E+8

Photon Flux (s-1)

Hold-off time (ns)

Fig. 4. (a) Count rate and (b) apparent and intrinsic PDE vs. photon flux for a 1.06 m SPAD with 80 m diameter.

In summary, we have studied the afterpulsing effect in both 1.55 m and 1.06 m SPADs. Both gated mode and free running operations have been used to study the dependece of afterpulsing on various operating conditions. Theoretical study agrees well with experiemental results, and provides further insight on the dependence of afterpulsing on various device parameters and operating conditions. The long-term improvement of afterpulsing effect relies on improvement in materials properties that give rise to afterpulsingsuch as reduction in the density of trap defects in the multiplication regionand more fundamental work is needed to address materials issues. The near-term promise lies in more suitable device or circuit designs that enable SPAD operation with greatly reduced current flow associated with each avalanche event.
[1] M.A. Itzler, R. Ben-Michael, C.-F. Hsu, K. Slomkowski, A. Tosi, S. Cova, F. Zappa, and R. Ispasoiu, Single photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) for 1.5 m photon counting applications, J. Mod. Opt., vol. 54, no. 2-3, pp. 283-304 (2007). [2] F. Zappa, A. Lotito, A.C. Giudice, S. Cova, and M. Ghioni, Monolithic active-quenching and active-reset circuit for single-photon avalanche detectors, IEEE J. of Solid-State Circuits, vol. 38, no. 7, pp. 12981301, July 2003.

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