RP Photonics

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Definition: devices used for the detection of light

German: Photodetektoren, Lichtdetektoren

Category: photonic devices

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Photodetectors are devices used for the detection of light – in most cases of optical powers. As the requirements for applications vary considerably, there are many types of photodetectors which may be appropriate in a particular case:

Various kinds of photodetectors can be integrated into devices like powermeters and optical power monitors.

Important Properties of Photodetectors

Depending on the application, a photodetector has to fulfill various requirements:

Different detector types, as listed above, differ very much in many of these properties. In typical application scenarios, some requirements totally rule out the use of certain detector types, and quickly lead to a fairly limited choice. Note also that there are some typical trade-offs. For example, it is frequently difficult to combine a high detection bandwidth with a high sensitivity.


The RP Photonics Buyer's Guide contains 42 suppliers for photodetectors. Among them:

See also: photodiodes, p–i–n photodiodes, avalanche photodiodes, metal–semiconductor–metal photodetectors, velocity-matched photodetectors, phototubes, photomultipliers, powermeters, optical power monitors, single photon counting, noise specifications, noise-equivalent power, responsivity
and other articles in the category photonic devices

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