Parallel reconfigurable single photon avalanche diode array for optical communications
Fisher, Edward Michael Dennis
There is a pressing need to develop alternative communications links due to a number of physical phenomena, limiting the bandwidth and energy efficiency of wire-based systems or economic factors such as cost, material-supply reliability and environmental costs. Networks have moved to optical connections to reduce costs, energy use and to supply high data rates. A primary concern is that current optical-detection devices require high optical power to achieve fast data rates with high signal quality. The energy required therefore, quickly becomes a problem. In this thesis, advances in single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) are utilised to reduce the amount of light needed and to reduce the overall energy budget. Current high performance receivers often use exotic materials, many of which have severe environmental impact and have cost, supply and political restrictions. These present a problem when it comes to integration; hence silicon technology is used, allowing small, mass-producible, low power receivers. A reconfigurable SPAD-based integrating receiver in standard 130nm imaging CMOS is presented for links with a readout bandwidth of 100MHz. A maximum count rate of 58G photon/s is observed, with a dynamic range of ≈ 79dB, a sensitivity of ≈ −31.7dBm at 100MHz and a BER of ≈ 1x10−9. We investigate the properties of the receiver for optical communications in the visible spectrum, using its added functionality and reconfigurability to experimentally explore non-ideal influences. The all-digital 32x32 SPAD array, achieves a minimum dead time of 5.9ns, and a median dark count rate (DCR) of 2.5kHz per SPAD. High noise devices can be weighted or removed to optimise the SNR. The power requirements, transient response and received data are explored and limiting factors similar to those of photodiode receivers are observed. The thesis concludes that data can be captured well with such a device but more electrical energy is needed at the receiver due to its fundamental operation. Overall, optical power can be reduced, allowing significant savings in either transmitter power or the transmission length, along with the advantages of an integrated digital chip.