Saturday, June 23, 2018

Photon Counting History

Edward Fisher from the University of Edinburgh, UK publishes "Principles and Early Historical Development of Silicon Avalanche and Geiger-Mode Photodiodes" chapter in an open source "Photon Counting" book.

The chapter is a historical literature review for the development of solid-state photodetection and avalanche multiplication between 1900 and 1969 based on 110+ primary sources that are key in the field over that time.

The author is looking to fill some of the gaps for a later Springer book covering 1900 to 1999, i.e. 100 years of solid-state photodetection with a distinct avalanche focus (with significantly more detail). Edward Fisher is looking for any key papers or patents the readers of this blog think should be included for the 1900-1969 period.

When the full 1900-1999 analysis is finished, Edward aims for it to be the de-facto literature reference for the field, as it is often difficult for busy technical researchers to either find or read some of the older literature.

"The historical development of technology can inform future innovation, and while theses and review articles attempt to set technologies and methods in context, few can discuss the historical background of a scientific paradigm. In this chapter, the nature of the photon is discussed along with what physical mechanisms allow detection of single-photons using solid-state semiconductor-based technologies. By restricting the scope of this chapter to near-infrared, visible and near-ultraviolet detection we can focus upon the internal photoelectric effect. Likewise, by concentrating on single-photon semiconductor detectors, we can focus upon the carrier-multiplication gain that has allowed sensitivity to approach the single-photon level. This chapter and the references herein aim to provide a historical account and full literature review of key, early developments in the history of photodiodes (PDs), avalanche photodiodes (APDs), single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs), other Geiger-mode avalanche photodiodes (GM-APDs) and silicon photo-multipliers (Si-PMs).

As there are overlaps with the historical development of the transistor (1940s), we find that development of the p-n junction and the observation of noise from distinct crystal lattice or doping imperfections – called “microplasmas” – were catalysts for innovation. The study of microplasmas, and later dedicated structures acting as known-area, uniform-breakdown artificial microplasmas, allowed the avalanche gain mechanism to be observed, studied and utilised.

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