Near infrared single photon detection using Ge-on-Si heterostructures

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: ATI Electronics


Semiconductor-based photon-counting detectors have risen to prominence in the last decade as new application areas have emerged, such as quantum information processing, and in particular quantum cryptography. These photon-counting detectors - mainly fabricated from silicon - have also taken over from photomultipliers in a number of laboratory applications where their room temperature operation, fast timing, small footprint and low power consumption have proved advantageous in a host of applications, for example fluorescence lifetime imaging. New photon-counting applications areas in ground-based, airborne and even satellite-borne laser-induced reflection techniques have been developed in recent years (eg for detection of trace gas concentrations), as well as significant developments in low-power optical imaging and high-resolution depth imaging. In the near-infrared spectral region - where silicon-based detectors are highly inefficient - there remain substantial issues with available single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) detectors. Their performance deteriorates due to the high noise levels associated with thermal excitation of carriers across the relatively narrow bandgaps, as well as the effects of mid-gap trapping centres causing the deleterious effects of afterpulsing, further contributing to detector noise levels. This project aims to establish a new class of germanium/silicon SPADs that will operate efficiently in the near-infrared, particularly at the strategically important telecommunications wavebands, and combine the advantages of low-noise Si single-photon avalanche multiplication with the infra-red sensing capability of Ge. This new class of detectors will take advantage of recent advances in epitaxial Ge/Si growth and be fabricated in conjunction with the recently-created UK Silicon Photonics consortium (UKSP), which offers world-class device growth and fabrication facilities. The detectors will be validated on existing state-of-the-art testbeds for quantum key distribution and time-of-flight ranging/depth imaging. The project leverages the combined expertise and facilities of existing UK Silicon Photonics consortium to do additional and new work, thus adding value to that consortium.


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/H051767/1 30/09/2010 30/03/2012 £251,820
EP/H051767/2 Transfer EP/H051767/1 31/08/2012 30/08/2014 £180,501
Description This grant was continued when the PI and his group transferred to the University of Southampton. A following grnat was issued. Therefore, further details can be found under grant number EP/H051767/2.
Exploitation Route Continued in the subsequent grant EP/H051767/2
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics

Description Dr Stevan Stankovic and Mr Nathan Soper were speakers at the Science and Engineering Festival 2016, part of British Science Week 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact General Public invited to see the technology of Southampton University. The University of Southampton opened its doors to thousands of people for its biggest outreach event of the year, Science and Engineering Festival 2016, part of British Science Week. Amongst the huge range of activities, tours and shows on offer was the opportunity to see inside the state-of-the-art Zepler Institute Cleanroom Complex, home to the best set of nanoelectronics and photonics fabrication capabilities in the UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016