Dynamic photodiode eases logic-photovoltaic integration

June 09, 2014 // By Peter Clarke
ActLight SA (Lausanne, Switzerland), a fabless chip company working on the combination of photovoltaics and logic on silicon chips, has developed a dynamic photodiode technology that is a fundamentally different mode of operation for the PIN photodiode.

The dynamic photodiode (DPD) includes a voltage that is switched from reverse to forward and the applied forward bias induces a large forward current after a time delay. In these circumstances it is the delay, rather than the current, that is dependent on the light intensity. This delay-time dependence provides a new method of measuring light intensity and the output signal can be several orders of magnitude higher than the conventional PIN photodiode.

ActLight has implemented the DPD in a photonics manufacturing technology provided by the Institute of Microelectronics (IME) of Singapore after 18 months collaboration with the Singaporean institute. Due to its high internal gain and low noise the DPD eliminates the need for an amplifier and can be interfaced directly to CMOS circuits, the company said. In parallel, ActLight has validated their technology by using a standard CMOS process with excellent results that confirms the advantages of ActLight's Dynamic Photodiode implemented with today’s standard CMOS technologies.

The co-developed photodiode provides the means to integrate a low power sensitive and easy to integrate photodetector into CMOS logic with potential applications in mobile devices and medical electronics and in data communications.

"Our dynamic photodiode has applications in proximity sensors, gesture control sensors, and in the future, in light data transfer and 3D cameras," said Serguei Okhonin, CEO of ActLight, in a statement. "Leveraging this breakthrough and proprietary technology, ActLight sees potential for explosive growth in different verticals such as mobile technology and medtech. We see considerable interest from industry for our innovation."

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