Partnership Resource Projects

Low-light level infrared LIDAR using electron multiplying semiconductor detectors – Leonardo, Heriot Watt University and  University of Sheffield

The use of single photon time of flight LIDAR has recently emerged as a key candidate technology for both free space and underwater depth imaging. This has applications in security and defence, and the oil and gas industries. These applications all rely on the continued development of III-V optical detectors. The global market size for III-V compound semiconductors is estimated to be £1-2Bn according to the roadmap produced by the EPSRC III-V National Centre.

This project will determine the technical and commercial feasibility of using InAs avalanche photodiode detectors in short wave infrared low light level LIDAR systems. InAs-based avalanche photodiodes have recently emerged as new candidate detector technology for infrared (up to 3300nm wavelength) low light level detection with Peltier cooling. The project will include the design, fabrication and characterisation of an array of picosecond resolution, low light level InAs avalanche detectors, comprising 8 to 16 pixels which can be addressed collectively or independently. This will provide the underpinning expertise needed to scale to full 2D focal plane arrays.

The project provides new partnering with University of Sheffield and will establish links with existing III-V foundries in the UK to develop the commercial infrastructure for manufacture. Leonardo will provide both top-level systems and end user advice, and can also provide manufacturing advice from its CMT foundry. A successful outcome will be the full design criteria for new detector arrays and the identification of a UK manufacturing supply chain. Leonardo will work with Heriot Watt University and University of Sheffield to identify and contact key players in the supply chain to advise technical progress. The proposed project is aligned with work packages 2 (Imaging with Timing) and 4 (Development of Sources and Sensors) of the QuantIC work programme.


About Leonardo

Leonardo is a global player in the high-tech sectors and a major operator worldwide in the Aerospace, Defence and Security sectors. Leonardo is based in Italy, has more than 47,000 employees (as at 12/31/2015), of whom about 37% abroad, and in 2015 recorded revenues of EUR 13.0 billion and orders of EUR 12.4 billion. Based on the dual use of technologies, Leonardo designs and creates products, systems, services and integrated solutions both for the defence sector and for public and private customers of the civil sector, both in Italy and abroad. For more information visit