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Uncooled Nanopillar Single-Photon Avalanche Diodes (NP-SPADs) at Telecommunication Wavelengths

Project description

Commercialisation of efficient single-photon detectors for telecom applications imminent

Sending and receiving quantum information over long distances using single photons at telecommunication wavelengths will underpin innovations in remote sensing applications and quantum information processing. The EU-funded NP-SPAD project will develop a device scheme that leverages single-photon avalanche diodes (SPADs) composed of semiconductor materials that will be operating at 1.55 µm. The aim is to improve photon detection efficiency by 20 % and significantly reduce the dark count rate compared to the commercial Geiger-mode avalanche photodiodes. If successful, the project will significantly foster the development and commercialisation of high-performance semiconductor-based SPADs, putting the EU at the forefront of cutting-edge technology in single-photon detection.


High efficiency detection of single photons at telecommunication wavelengths (notably at 1.55 µm) is critical for emerging technologies, such as free-space and on-fiber quantum information processing, eye-safe and long-distance light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and highly sensitive remote sensing. This research project aims to meet this critical need by developing III-V nanopillar-based uncooled single-photon avalanche diodes (NP-SPADs), which are composed of nanostructured InAsP-InP Geiger-mode avalanche photodiodes (GmAPDs) with self-assembled plasmonic gratings, operating at 1.55 µm. Compared with commercially available InGaAs(P)-InP GmAPDs, the proposed device scheme significantly suppresses thermally generated carriers and trap state population by a factor of 20 to 100 due to the extremely small fill factor of nanopillar arrays (less than 5%). All the while, sufficient optical absorption is maintained via surface plasmon resonance by the plasmonic gratings. The sum combination of these unique capabilities offers the promise of achieving NP-SPADs with free-running mode operation, high photon detection efficiency (PDE; probability of detecting a single photon) of 10 – 20%, low dark count rate (DCR; rate of false detection) of ~50 Hz, and high photon count rate ≥5 MHz. If successful, this approach can drastically stimulate the development and commercialization of high performance semiconductor-based NP-SPADs, putting European Union (EU) at the forefront of cutting-edge technology in single photon detection.


Net EU contribution
€ 224 933,76
CF24 0DE Cardiff
United Kingdom

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Wales East Wales Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 224 933,76