Si Transimpedance Amplified Photodetectors
- Wavelength Ranges from 200 to 1100 nm
- Low-Noise, Wide Band Amplifiers
- Fixed and Switchable Gain Modules
- PDF Series for Femtowatt Powers
- 0 to 10 V Output
- Compatible with SM1 (1.035"-40) Series and Some SM05 (0.535"-40) Series Products
- Linear Power Supply Included
These Si Transimpedance Amplified Photodetectors, which consist of a photodiode and amplifier in a compact, low-profile package, are sensitive to light in the UV to NIR spectral region from 200 nm to 1100 nm. The slim profile housing enables use in light paths with space constraints. All connections and controls are located perpendicular to the light path, providing increased accessibility. Amplification is provided by low noise transimpedance or voltage amplifiers that are capable of driving 50 Ω loads. Signal output is via a BNC connector. Thorlabs offers a wide variety of BNC, BNC-to-SMA, and SMC cables, as well as a variety of BNC, SMA, and SMC adapters.
Each housing provides two 8-32 tapped mounting holes (M4 for - EC) centered on the detector surface for vertical or horizontal post mounting. The housings also feature external SM1 threading and internal SM05 threading that are compatible with most Thorlabs SM1 (1.035"-40)- and SM05 (0.535"-40)-threaded accessories. Additionally, an internally threaded SM1 coupler is included with each detector. This allows convenient mounting of SM1 compatible accessories, optics, and cage assembly accessories. The internal SM05 threading is only suitable for mating to an externally threaded SM05 lens tube (components such as fiber adapters cannot be threaded onto the SM05 threading). SM1-threaded fiber adapters may be used with any of these detectors. Externally SM1-threaded adapters should be mated to the included internally SM1-threaded adapter, while internally SM1-threaded adapters can be mated directly to the housing. A 120 VAC AC/DC linear power supply is included (230 VAC for - EC versions).
Due to limitations in the IC, the high-speed amplifier used in these devices may become unstable, exhibiting oscillations or negative output if the linear power supply voltage is applied when the module is on. The unit should always be powered up using the power switch on the power supply or the unit itself. Hot plugging the unit is not recommended. Additionally, inhomogeneities at the edges of the active area of the detector can generate unwanted capacitance and resistance effects that distort the time-domain response of the photodetector output. Thorlabs therefore recommends that the incident light on the photodetector is well centered on the active area. The SM1 (1.035"-40) threading on the housing is ideally suited for mounting a Ø1" focusing lens or pinhole in front of the detector element.
|320 - 1000 nm||0.56 A/W|
@ 820 nm
|DC - 50 MHz||6.5 x 10-12||7 ns|
|200 - 1100 nm||0.45 A/W|
@ 750 nm
|DC - 150 MHz||5.5 x 10-11||2.3 ns|
(1.1 x 1.1 mm)
|320 - 1100 nm||0.6 A/W|
@ 960 nm
|DC - 20 Hz||1.4 x 10-15||22 ms|
(3.6 x 3.6 mm)
|350 - 1100 nm||0.65 A/W|
@ 970 nm
|DC - 10 MHz||2.1 x 10-12 - |
7.7 x 10-11
|340 - 1100 nm||0.65 A/W|
@ 970 nm
|DC - 2.4 MHz||2.1 x 10-12 - |
6.0 x 10-11
a A NEP range is given for the switch gain detectors, a max NEP is given for the fixed gain detectors.
b Please note that rise times depend on the chosen gain level. As one increases the gain of a given optical amplifier, the bandwidth is reduced, and hence, the rise time increases.
|Gain Type||Gain w/ Hi-Z Load||Gain w/ 50 Ω Load||Output Voltage|
w/ Hi-Z Load
w/ 50 Ω Load
|PDA8A||Fixed||100 kV/A||50 kV/A||0 - 3.6 V||0 - 1.8 V|
|PDA10A||Fixed||10 kV/A||5 kV/A||0 - 10 V||0 - 5 V|
|Gain w/ Hi-Z Load||Gain w/ 50 Ω Load||Output Voltage|
w/ Hi-Z Load
w/ 50 Ω Load
|PDA36A & PDA100A||0||1.5 kV/A||0.75 kV/A||0 - 10 V||0 - 5 V|
|10||4.75 kV/A||2.38 kV/A|
|20||15 kV/A||7.5 kV/A|
|30||47.5 kV/A||23.8 kV/A|
|40||150 kV/A||75 kV/A|
|50||475 kV/A||238 kV/A|
|60||1.5 MV/A||750 kV/A|
|70||4.75 MV/A||2.38 MV/A|
* Complete specifications at each gain step are listed on page 9 of the manual for each item, which may be downloaded by clicking the next to the item # below.
Note: Gain figures can also be expressed in units of Ω.
PDA Series Design, scale in inches [mm ].
Compact PDA & PDF Series Design
Thorlabs' Amplified Photodiode series features a slim design, which allows the detector access to the light path even between closely spaced optical elements.
The power supply input and the BNC output are located on the same outer edge of the package, further reducing the device thickness and allowing easier integration into tight optic arrangements. The PDA and PDF series detectors can fit into spaces as thin as 0.83" (21.1 mm) when the SM1 coupler is removed. With the SM1 coupler attached, the smallest width the detector can fit into is 1.03" (26.2 mm).
Additionally, the detectors have two tapped mounting holes perpendicular to each other so that the unit can be mounted in a horizontal or vertical orientation. This dual mounting feature offsets the fact that the cables protrude out the side of the package, thus requiring more free space above or alongside your beam path.
The switchable gain detectors feature an eight-position rotary gain switch (pictured below right) mounted on an outside edge perpendicular to the power supply and BNC output connections. The location of the gain switch allows for easy adjustments while the detector is mounted.
PDA Series Mounting Options
The PDA series of amplified photodetectors are compatible with our entire line of lens tubes, TR series posts, and cage mounting systems. Because of the wide range of mounting options, the best method for mounting the housing in a given optical setup is not always obvious. The pictures and text in this tab will discuss some of the common mounting solutions. As always, our technical support staff is available for individual consultation.
|Picture of a PDA series photodetector as it will look when unpackaged.||Picture of a DET series photodetector with the included SM1T1 and its retaining ring removed from the front of the housing. Thorlabs' PDA series photodetectors feature the same mounting options.||A close up picture of the front of the PDA10A photodetector. The internal SM1 threading on the SM1T1 adapter and internal SM05 threading on the photodetector housing can be seen in this image.|
TR Series Post (Ø1/2" Posts) System
The PDA housing can be mounted vertically or horizontally on a TR Series Post using the 8-32 (M4) threaded holes.
|DET series photodetector mounted vertically on a TR series post. In this configuration, the output and power cables (PDA series) are oriented vertically and away from the optic table, facilitating a neater optical setup.||PDA series photodetector mounted horizontally on a TR series post. In this configuration, the on/off switch is conveniently oriented on the top of the detector. |
Lens Tube System
Each PDA housing includes a detachable Ø1" Optic Mount (SM1T1) that allows for Ø1" (Ø25.4 mm) optical components, such as optical filters and lenses, to be mounted along the axis perpendicular to the center of the photosensitive region. The maximum thickness of an optic that can be mounted in the SM1T1 is 0.1" (2.8 mm). For thicker Ø1" (Ø25.4 mm) optics or for any thickness of Ø0.5" (Ø12.7 mm) optics, remove the SM1T1 from the front of the detector and place (must be purchased separately) an SM1 or SM05 series lens tube, respectively, on the front of the detector.
The SM1 and SM05 threadings on the PDA photodetector housing make it compatible with our SM lens tube system and accessories. Two particularly useful accessories include the SM-threaded irises and the SM-compatible IR and visible alignment tools. Also available are fiber optic adapters for use with connectorized fibers.
|DET series photodetector mounted onto an SM1L30C Ø1" Slotted Lens Tube, which is housing a focusing optic. The lens tube is attached to a 30 mm cage system via a CP02 SM1-Threaded 30 mm Cage Plate. This arrangement allows easy access for optic adjustment and signal alignment.|
The simplest method for attaching the PDA photodetector housing to a cage plate is to remove the SM1T1 that is attached to the front of the PDA when it is shipped. This will expose external SM1 threading that is deep enough to thread the photodetector directly to a CP02 30 mm cage plate. When the CP02 cage plate is tightened down onto the PDA photodetector housing, the cage plate will not necessarily be square with the detector. To fix this, back off the cage plate until it is square with the photodetector and then use the retaining ring included with the SM1T1 to lock the PDA photodetector into the desired location.
This method for attaching the PDA photodetector housing to a cage plate does not allow much freedom in determining the orientation of the photodetector; however, it has the benefit of not needing an adapter piece, and it allows the diode to be as close as possible to the cage plate, which can be important in setups where the light is divergent. As a side note, Thorlabs sells the SM05PD and SM1PD series of photodiodes that can be threaded into a cage plate so that the diode is flush with the front surface of the cage plate; however, the photodiode is unbiased.
For more freedom in choosing the orientation of the PDA photodetector housing when attaching it, a SM1T2 lens tube coupler can be purchased. In this configuration the SM1T1 is left on the detector and the SM1T2 is threaded into it. The exposed external SM1 threading is now deep enough to secure the detector to a CP02 cage plate in any orientation and lock it into place using one of the two locking rings on the ST1T2.
|This picture shows a DET series photodetector attached to a CP02 cage plate after removing the SM1T1. The retaining ring from the SM1T1 was used to make the orientation of the detector square with the cage plate.||These two pictures show a DET series photodetector in a horizontal configuration. The top picture shows the detector directly coupled to a CP02 cage plate.|
The bottom picture shows a DET series photodetector attached to a CP02 cage plate using an SM1T2 adapter in addition to the SM1T1 that comes with the PDA series detector.
Although not pictured here, the PDA photodetector housing can be connected to a 16 mm cage system by purchasing an SM05T2. It can be used to connect the PDA photodetector housing to an SP02 cage plate.
The image below shows a Michelson Interferometer built entirely from parts available from Thorlabs. This application demonstrates the ease with which an optical system can be constructed using our lens tube, TR series post, and cage systems. A PDA series photodetector is interchangeable with the DET series photodetector shown in the picture.
The table below contains a part list for the Michelson Interferometer for use in the visible range. Follow the links to the pages for more information about the individual parts.
|Item #||Quantity||Description||Item #||Quantity||Description|
|KC1||1||Mirror Mount||CT1||1||1/2" Travel Translator|
|BB1-E02||2||Broadband Dielectric Laser Mirrors||SM1D12||1||SM1 Threaded Lens Tube Iris|
|ER4||8||4" Cage Rods||SM1L30C||1||SM1 3" Slotted Lens Tube|
|ER6||4||6" Cage Rods||SM1V05||1||Ø1" Adjustable Length Lens Tube|
|CM1-BS013||1||Cube-Mounted Beamsplitter||CP08FP||1||30 mm Cage Plate for FiberPorts|
|BA2||1||Post Base (not shown in picture)||PAF-X-5-A||1||FiberPort|
|TR2||1||Ø1/2" Post, 2" in Length||P1-460A-FC-2||1||Single Mode Fiber Patch Cable|
|PH2||1||Ø1/2" Post Holder||DET36A / PDA36A||1||Biased / Amplified Photodiode Detector|
BNC Female Output
0 - 10 V Output
PDA-C-72 Power Supply
The following table lists the amplified detectors found on this page, along with the unmounted and mounted photodiodes and biased detectors which use the same internal photodiode.
Theory of Operation
A junction photodiode is an intrinsic device that behaves similarly to an ordinary signal diode, but it generates a photocurrent when light is absorbed in the depleted region of the junction semiconductor. A photodiode is a fast, highly linear device that exhibits high quantum efficiency based upon the application and may be used in a variety of different applications.
It is necessary to be able to correctly determine the level of the output current to expect and the responsivity based upon the incident light. Depicted in Figure 1 is a junction photodiode model with basic discrete components to help visualize the main characteristics and gain a better understanding of the operation of Thorlabs' photodiodes.
Figure 1: Photodiode Model
The responsivity of a photodiode can be defined as a ratio of generated photocurrent (IPD) to the incident light power (P) at a given wavelength:
Modes of Operation (Photoconductive vs. Photovoltaic)
A photodiode can be operated in one of two modes: photoconductive (reverse bias) or photovoltaic (zero-bias). Mode selection depends upon the application's speed requirements and the amount of tolerable dark current (leakage current).
In photoconductive mode, an external reverse bias is applied, which is the basis for our DET series detectors. The current measured through the circuit indicates illumination of the device; the measured output current is linearly proportional to the input optical power. Applying a reverse bias increases the width of the depletion junction producing an increased responsivity with a decrease in junction capacitance and produces a very linear response. Operating under these conditions does tend to produce a larger dark current, but this can be limited based upon the photodiode material. (Note: Our DET detectors are reverse biased and cannot be operated under a forward bias.)
In photovoltaic mode the photodiode is zero biased. The flow of current out of the device is restricted and a voltage builds up. This mode of operation exploits the photovoltaic effect, which is the basis for solar cells. The amount of dark current is kept at a minimum when operating in photovoltaic mode.
Dark current is leakage current that flows when a bias voltage is applied to a photodiode. When operating in a photoconductive mode, there tends to be a higher dark current that varies directly with temperature. Dark current approximately doubles for every 10 °C increase in temperature, and shunt resistance tends to double for every 6 °C rise. Of course, applying a higher bias will decrease the junction capacitance but will increase the amount of dark current present.
The dark current present is also affected by the photodiode material and the size of the active area. Silicon devices generally produce low dark current compared to germanium devices which have high dark currents. The table below lists several photodiode materials and their relative dark currents, speeds, sensitivity, and costs.
|Silicon (Si)||Low||High Speed||400 - 1000 nm||Low|
|Germanium (Ge)||High||Low Speed||900 - 1600 nm||Low|
|Gallium Phosphide (GaP)||Low||High Speed||150 - 550 nm||Moderate|
|Indium Gallium Arsenide (InGaAs)||Low||High Speed||800 - 1800 nm||Moderate|
|Extended Range Indium Gallium Arsenide (InGaAs)||High||High Speed||1200 - 2600 nm||High|
Junction capacitance (Cj) is an important property of a photodiode as this can have a profound impact on the photodiode's bandwidth and response. It should be noted that larger diode areas encompass a greater junction volume with increased charge capacity. In a reverse bias application, the depletion width of the junction is increased, thus effectively reducing the junction capacitance and increasing the response speed.
Bandwidth and Response
A load resistor will react with the photodetector junction capacitance to limit the bandwidth. For best frequency response, a 50 Ω terminator should be used in conjunction with a 50 Ω coaxial cable. The bandwidth (fBW) and the rise time response (tr) can be approximated using the junction capacitance (Cj) and the load resistance (RLOAD):
A load resistance is used to convert the generated photocurrent into a voltage (VOUT) for viewing on an oscilloscope:
Depending on the type of the photodiode, load resistance can affect the response speed. For maximum bandwidth, we recommend using a 50 Ω coaxial cable with a 50 Ω terminating resistor at the opposite end of the cable. This will minimize ringing by matching the cable with its characteristic impedance. If bandwidth is not important, you may increase the amount of voltage for a given light level by increasing RLOAD. In an unmatched termination, the length of the coaxial cable can have a profound impact on the response, so it is recommended to keep the cable as short as possible.
Shunt resistance represents the resistance of the zero-biased photodiode junction. An ideal photodiode will have an infinite shunt resistance, but actual values may range from the order of ten Ω to thousands of MΩ and is dependent on the photodiode material. For example, and InGaAs detector has a shunt resistance on the order of 10 MΩ while a Ge detector is in the kΩ range. This can significantly impact the noise current on the photodiode. For most applications, however, the high resistance produces little effect and can be ignored.
Series resistance is the resistance of the semiconductor material, and this low resistance can generally be ignored. The series resistance arises from the contacts and the wire bonds of the photodiode and is used to mainly determine the linearity of the photodiode under zero bias conditions.
Common Operating Circuits
Figure 2: Reverse-Biased Circuit (DET Series Detectors)
The DET series detectors are modeled with the circuit depicted above. The detector is reverse biased to produce a linear response to the applied input light. The amount ofphotocurrent generated is based upon the incident light and wavelength and can be viewed on an oscilloscope by attaching a load resistance on the output. The function of the RC filter is to filter any high frequency noise from the input supply that may contribute to a noisy output.
Figure 3: Amplified Detector Circuit
One can also use a photodetector with an amplifier for the purpose of achieving high gain. The user can choose whether to operate in Photovoltaic of Photoconductive modes. There are a few benefits of choosing this active circuit:
- Photovoltaic mode: The circuit is held at zero volts across the photodiode, since point A is held at the same potential as point B by the operational amplifier. This eliminates the possibility of dark current.
- Photoconductive mode: The photodiode is reversed biased, thus improving the bandwidth while lowering the junction capacitance. The gain of the detector is dependent on the feedback element (Rf). The bandwidth of the detector can be calculated using the following:
where GBP is the amplifier gain bandwidth product and CD is the sum of the junction capacitance and amplifier capacitance.