December 7, 2022
Tobias Beckerwerth, research associate in the Photonic Components department at the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI), was honored with the IPC Best Student Paper Award at the 2022 IEEE Photonics Conference. The PhD candidate was able to prevail against four other nominated papers. His award-winning article “High-Speed Waveguide Integrated Avalanche Photodiode on InP” emphasizes the development of integrated photodiodes for high-speed operation with increased sensitivity.
The expansion of 5G networks and increasing requirements for data-center interconnects (DCI) cannot be efficiently channeled by electronic microchip technology alone. However, combining electrical devices with integrated photonics provides an energy-efficient way to increase the speed and capacity of data networks, meeting diverse needs across industries. Situated in such a techno-economic context, Tobias Beckerwerth works on applied use cases of integrated photonics - predominantly in the field of detectors.
At the closing ceremony of the 2022 IEEE Photonics Conference, the aspiring PhD candidate received the notation of excellence precisely due to his comprehensive and rigorous research approach. The well-distinguished ceremony marks a highlight of the IEEE Photonics Society’s flagship meeting that took place from 13-17 November 2022 in Vancouver, Canada. Content-wise, Tobias Beckerwerth stresses the development of waveguide-integrated avalanche photodiodes (APD) for photonic integrated circuits (PIC) on an indium phosphide (InP) substrate. Due to an advanced design, especially regarding the semiconductor layer stack, the developed photodiodes combine high bandwidth and sensitivity. They hence exceed the performance of conventional photodiodes. On this note, the new approach of fabricating waveguide-integrated photodiodes achieves excellent functionality over a wide wavelength range. It further ensures the compatibility of photodiodes with other photonic components while demonstrating a promising performance for application in DCI.
Accordingly, Tobias Beckerwerth’s awarded paper addresses avalanche photodiodes in InP technology, comprising a flipped structure with a fully undepleted absorber and an additional drift layer on a waveguide structure. This design approach proved to shift the performance limitations regarding gain, bandwidth and sensitivity of APDs. The device shows high external responsivity of 0.61 A/W at unity gain for a wavelength of 1550 nm, while the bandwidth is up to 37 GHz at a gain of M=1.5.