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