Current-Assisted SPAD with Improved NIR PDE

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MDPI paper "Current-Assisted SPAD with Improved p-n Junction and Enhanced NIR Performance" by Gobinath Jegannathan, Thomas Van den Dries, and Maarten Kuijk from Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, promises dramatic improvements:

"Single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) fabricated in conventional CMOS processes typically have limited near infra-red (NIR) sensitivity. This is the consequence of isolating the SPADs in a lowly-doped deep N-type well. In this work, we present a second improved version of the “current-assisted” single-photon avalanche diode, fabricated in a conventional 350 nm CMOS process, having good NIR sensitivity owing to 14 μm thick epilayer for photon absorption. The presented device has a photon absorption area of 30 × 30 µm2, with a much smaller central active area for avalanche multiplication. The photo-electrons generated in the absorption area are guided swiftly towards the central area with a drift field created by the “current-assistance” principle. The central active avalanche area has a cylindrical p-n junction as opposed to the square geometry from the previous iteration. The presented device shows improved performance in all aspects, most notably in photon detection probability. The p-n junction capacitance is estimated to be ~1 fF and on-chip passive quenching with source followers is employed to conserve the small capacitance for bringing monitoring signals off-chip. Device physics simulations are presented along with measured dark count rate (DCR), timing jitter, after-pulsing probability (APP) and photon detection probability (PDP). The presented device has a peak PDP of 22.2% at a wavelength of 600 nm and a timing jitter of 220 ps at a wavelength of 750 nm."

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