Repeated radiation damage and thermal annealing of avalanche photodiodes
Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo, N2L 3G1, Waterloo, ON, Canada
2 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Waterloo, N2L 3G1, Waterloo, ON, Canada
3 Aegis Quantum, Waterloo, ON, Canada
4 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Waterloo, N2L 3G1, Waterloo, ON, Canada
5 Russian Quantum Center, Skolkovo, 121205, Moscow, Russia
6 Shanghai Branch, National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale and CAS Center for Excellence in Quantum Information, University of Science and Technology of China, 201315, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
7 NTI Center for Quantum Communications, National University of Science and Technology MISiS, 119049, Moscow, Russia
Accepted: 5 May 2021
Published online: 17 May 2021
Avalanche photodiodes (APDs) are well-suited for single-photon detection on quantum communication satellites as they are a mature technology with high detection efficiency without requiring cryogenic cooling. They are, however, prone to significantly increased thermal noise caused by in-orbit radiation damage. Previous work demonstrated that a one-time application of thermal annealing reduces radiation-damage-induced APD thermal noise. Here we examine the effect of cyclical proton irradiation and thermal annealing. We use an accelerated testing environment which emulates a realistic two-year operating profile of a satellite in low-Earth-orbit. We show that repeated thermal annealing is effective at maintaining thermal noise of silicon APDs within a range suitable for quantum key distribution throughout the nominal mission life, and beyond. We examine two strategies—annealing at a fixed period of time, and annealing only when the thermal noise exceeds a pre-defined limit. We find both strategies exhibit similar thermal noise at end-of-life, with a slight overall advantage to annealing conditionally. We also observe that afterpulsing probability of the detector increases with cumulative proton irradiation. This knowledge helps guide design and tasking decisions for future space-borne quantum communication applications.
Key words: Avalanche photodiodes / Single-photon detectors / Satellite / Low-Earth orbit / Proton radiation / Annealing / Quantum key distribution / Quantum communications
© The Author(s) 2021
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.