Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Nanowire-based Mid Infrared Schottky Photodetector

Technology #5999

Mid-infrared (MIR) free space optical communications is a promising method of bridging last mile gaps in telecommunications, offering high bandwidths in unregulated spectrum with greater signal reliability than standard short-infrared telecom frequencies. However, high costs and specific operating parameters in existing MIR photodetectors have hampered adoption. Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a new lower cost MIR photodetector that can make MIR optical communications a cost-effective reality.

Silicon-compatible manufacturing enables lower cost

Using the Schottky barrier between germanium and gold, a nanowire photodiode with bandgap appropriate for direct mid-infrared detection is built on a silicon substrate. The compatibility of Ge and Au with existing silicon processes will lower production costs compared to current detectors. Meanwhile, nanowire-based construction will enable smaller device sizes and higher sensitivity.


  • Free space optical communication detectors
  • Inter-satellite communications
  • Medical device sensors


  • Lower cost of production from compatible processes
  • Smaller packaging sizes and higher packing density
  • Improved detection sensitivity