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29 August 2008


ATI unveils NIR solid-state photomultiplier with gain of 200,000

Funded mainly by Phase II of a NASA small business innovation research (SBIR) grant, Amplification Technologies Inc (ATI) of New York, NY, USA has developed a high-gain solid-state photomultiplier that operates at 1000-1700nm near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths. Device samples should be available in TO8 or chip-on-sub-mount (COS) packages in fourth-quarter 2008.

ATI based the design and prototype on its discrete amplification photon detector (DAPD) technology, which has specifications comparable to or better than photomultiplier vacuum tube devices, the firm claims. It has now expanded DAPD’s usefulness and potential applications by demonstrating that DAPD can be implemented on the indium gallium arsenide/indium phosphide (InGaAs/InP) material system as well as silicon, extending its applicability beyond visible light to NIR wavelengths.

ATI says that there is an acute need for ultra-sensitive, compact, rugged and inexpensive optical sensors in the NIR range of the spectrum, and that the new devices will be of interest for spectroscopy, night-vision, industrial and scientific instrumentation, astronomy, quantum cryptography, free-space optical communications, and other military, defence and aerospace applications.

NASA needs high-efficiency and high-bandwidth single-photon counting devices in the 1000-1600nm wavelength region, and the new device is the easiest-to-operate photon-counting detector with good performance in that wavelength range, reckons William Farr, manager of the Optical Communication Technology program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA. “Our early tests with the device show great promise,” he adds.

ATI claims that the measured devices have capabilities that far exceed other solid-state photodetectors in the NIR range, providing a gain of more than 200,000. The devices can be used for single-photon counting without requiring external quenching (i.e. reset) circuits that introduce delay.

“Implementing DAPD in the InGaAs/InP material system is a major step forward for low-level photon detection and amplification, and opens the door to new and improved applications and opportunities across many diverse fields,” says ATI’s executive chairman Jack N. Mayer.

This is a significant breakthrough for free-space optical communications and other near-infrared photon counting applications,” adds Farr. “We look forward to further developments with Amplification Technologies.”

*ATI says that it continues to make progress in meeting the conditions for its pending merger with Powersafe Technology Corp of Valley Stream, NY (which aims to develop ATI’s photodetector technology). It expects the merger to be consummated in the next several weeks.

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