Distortion Losses of High Speed SPAD Optical Receivers Approaching Quantum Sensitivity

John Kosman, Kevin P Moore, Harald Haas, Robert Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The high internal gain of single photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) operating in Geiger mode allows the quantum limit of detection to be approached. This offers a significantly improved sensitivity for optical communication over existing photodiodes. A fully integrated CMOS SPAD array receiver (RX) is presented which achieves 500Mb/s with pulse amplitude modulation in a visible light communication (VLC) link within 15.2dB of the quantum limit. However, the SPAD dead time induces around 5.7dB of transient distortion which restricts error performance and data rate. We propose a model describing a discrete photon counting system which exhibits this nonlinear behaviour and compare it to practical measurements with the RX. A unipolar intensity modulated optical signal is considered, as opposed to bipolar electric fields in conventional radio frequency wireless systems. Intermodulation between the DC and harmonic components of the data-carrying waveform is investigated, and the resulting degradation of signal-to-noise-and-distortion ratio and bit error rate is evaluated. The model is developed as a tool for understanding distortion to ultimately allow rectification through RX architecture, modulation scheme, coding and equalisation techniques.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2169
Early online date2 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Mar 2020


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