Commercially available InGaAs/InP avalanche photodiodes, designed for optical receivers and range finders, can be operated biased above the breakdown voltage, achieving single-photon sensitivity. We describe in detail how to select the device for photon-counting applications among commercial samples. Because of the high dark-counting rate the detector must be cooled to below 100 K and operated in a gated mode. We achieved a noise equivalent power of 3 × 10−16 W/Hz1/2 to a 1.55-μm wavelength and a time resolution well below 1 ns with a best value of 200-ps FWHM. Finally we compare these figures with the performance of state-of-the-art detectors in the near IR, and we highlight the potentials of properly designed InGaAs/InP avalanche photodiodes in single-photon detection.
© 1996 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: July 26, 1995
Revised Manuscript: October 2, 1995
Published: June 1, 1996
A. Lacaita, F. Zappa, S. Cova, and P. Lovati, "Single-photon detection beyond 1 μm: performance of commercially available InGaAs/InP detectors," Appl. Opt. 35, 2986-2996 (1996)