University of Waterloo
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
Phone: (519) 888-4567 ext 32215
Fax: (519) 746-8115
Physics (Quantum Information) Ph.D. Graduate Student
Single-photon detectors in space must retain useful performance characteristics despite being bombarded with sub-atomic particles. Mitigating the effects of this space radiation is vital to enabling new space applications which require high-delity single-photon detection. To this end, we conducted proton radiation tests of various models of avalanche photodiodes (APDs) and one model of photomultiplier tube potentially suitable for satellite-based quantum communications. Although most detection properties were preserved, including efficiency, timing jitter and afterpulsing probability, all APD samples demonstrated significant increases in dark count rate (DCR) due to radiation-induced damage, many orders of magnitude higher than the 200 counts per second (cps) required for ground-to-satellite quantum communications. We then successfully demonstrated the mitigation of this DCR degradation through the use of deep cooling, to as low as -86 degrees C, and by thermal annealing at temperatures of +50 to +100 degrees C. We also show that high-power laser annealing of irradiated APDs heals the radiation damage and substantially restores low dark count rates.