Sensitivity boost for LiDAR and optical fibre test

Sensitivity boost for LiDAR and optical fibre test

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

UK startup Phlux Technology has launched its first family of avalanche photodiode (APD) infrared sensors using a high sensitivity technology.,

The Aura family of 1550 nm devices use the Noiseless InGaAs APD technology developed by Phlux with 12 times the sensitivity of other sensors while being a drop in replacement.

The increased sensitivity of the drop in sensors improves the operating range of LiDAR, laser rangefinders, and optical fibre test equipment up to 50% with existing surface mount or TO-packaged footprints.

Phlux created its Noiseless InGaAs APD technology through adding an antimony alloy to the compound semiconductor manufacturing process. The resulting sensors can be operated with APD gains up to 120, enabling even the smallest signals above the noise floor of a connected trans-impedance amplifier (TIA) to be amplified. A further benefit of Aura APDs is their rapid overload recovery, which means that weaker secondary pulses that closely follow a large pulse can be detected.

The Aura sensors enable 12X greater LiDAR image resolution for a given laser power, up to 30% reduction in system size and weight, and up to 40% lower system costs. The size and cost reductions come from using lower-power lasers and smaller optical apertures without impacting system performance. Also, thermal management is simplified because Aura APDs operate at up to +85 °C without performance degradation, which is a significantly higher temperature than traditional parts.

“Our Noiseless APD technology is a step-function leap in performance and provides tangible benefits for any company involved with 1550 nm lasers,” said Phlux CEO, Ben White. “Automotive LiDAR is an exciting application where the move from 905 nm to 1550 nm lasers is accelerating, not least because the latter is “eye-safe”. But there are also huge opportunities for our products in telecommunications, laser rangefinders, imaging, spectroscopy, gas sensing and optical fibre test equipment, particularly optical time domain reflectometers.”

The Aura APD 200 (200 µm optical aperture) and Aura APD 80 (80 µm optical aperture) sensors are available as bare die or in industry-standard SMD, chip on sub-mount, and TO-46 packages designed to meet MIL-STD 883.

Typical parameters for both devices are responsivity of 0.98 A/W at 1550 nm, spectral range of 950 nm to 1700 nm, and excess noise factor of 1.86 at an avalanche gain of 40, or 1.08 at an avalanche gain of 10.

At a gain of 10, the noise equivalent power for the Aura APD 200 diode is 17 fW/Hz0.5, its capacitance 2.4 pF, and its cut-off frequency 0.7 GHz. The equivalent figures for the Aura APD 80 are 11.1 fW/Hz0.5, 0.6 pF, and 1.8 GHz.

Both devices have a typical operating voltage of -55 to -65 V and a breakdown voltage of -65 V, and their operating temperature range is -40 °C to +85 °C.


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