Nanoscience and Microsystems ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-13-2017


Optical signal detection is most readily done with classical sources emitting signals

which undergo very little attenuation. Detection of signals with these power levels

benets from classical photodetectors, where the photon induced electronic signal is

discernible above the background noise. In other instances, where the optical signal

may start from an attenuated source, or in cases where the optical signal is severely

attenuated in transit, a detector which exhibits gain converts a weak optical signal

into a measurable electrical one. Detectors which convert a weak photo-generated

electrical pulse into a strong one do so through a process known as carrier avalanche

and can only take place when the photodetector's applied voltage is high enough.

The voltage applied depends on physical parameters of the avalanche photodetector,

like it's width and doping factors.


APD's, as it will be shown, bridge the gap from classical detector to detection at

the quantum limit of single photons. This work will, in fact, explain the two modes

of operation that makes avalanche photon detectors responsive to both highly attenuated

classical sources down to attenuated sources averaging roughly one photon per

pulse. Figures of merit will show APDs operated separately in both modes of operation

yield exceptional performance compared to devices of similar architecture and

materials. Lastly, other opto-electronic devices with compatible processing will be

described, with the nal goal of designing and characterizing high performance optoelectronic

modular components that can be seamlessly integrated with one another

for a complete signals package.


apd single photon detector


Sandia National Labs

Document Type




Degree Name

Nanoscience and Microsystems

Level of Degree


Department Name

Nanoscience and Microsystems

First Committee Member (Chair)

Daniel Feezell

Second Committee Member

Paul Davids

Third Committee Member

Majeed Hayat

Fourth Committee Member

Tito Busani