• 29.40.–n;
  • 85.60.Gz;
  • 87.66.Pm


Solid state single photon detectors are getting attention in various areas of applied physics: optical sensors, communication, quantum cryptography, optical ranging and Lidar, time resolved spectroscopy, opaque media imaging and ballistic photon identification. We are reporting the state of the art of solid state single photon detectors developed at the Czech Technical University in Prague. Avalanche photodiodes specifically designed for single photon counting devices have been developed on the basis of various semiconductor materials: Si, Ge, GaP, GaAs and InGaAs. All the semiconductor detectors operate at a room temperature or at thermoelectrically achievable temperatures except of the germanium based detector, which requires liquid nitrogen cooling. Electronic circuits for these detectors biasing, quenching and control have been developed and optimised for different applications. The sensitivity of solid state photon counters spans from 0.1 nanometre X-ray up to 1800 nanometres in the near infrared region. Timing resolution of solid state photon counters as high as 50 picoseconds full width at a half maximum has been achieved when detecting single photon signals. Circuits permitting operation of solid state photon counters in both single and multiple photon signal regimes have been developed and applied. The compact and rugged design, radiation resistance, and low operating voltage are attractive features of solid state photon counters in various applications including the space projects. (© 2005 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)