Photodiode Amplifier Design

I recently designed an infrared sensor board (dubbed “IRis”) for my friend’s Defcon talk. This video walks through the circuit design of the photodiode amplifier, and discusses some of the pitfalls associated with photodiode amplifier design.

Schematics, BOM, and KiCAD design files for the described IRis board are available on github.

References and additional reading:

Description Reference
The bible of photodiode amplifier design Photodiode Amplifiers: Op Amp Solutions, Jerald Graeme
Good overview of photodiode design concerns Common Photodiode Op-Amp Circuit Problems and Solutions, Digi-Key
Excellent photodiode amplifier reference design Photodiode Amplifier Reference Design, Texas Instruments, John Caldwell
Bob Pease’s musings on transimpedance amplifiers What’s All This Transimpedance Amplifier Stuff Anyhow?, Bob Pease
JFETs as ultra-low leakage diodes Current Sources and Voltage References, Linden T. Harrison, Chapter 6.6

19 thoughts on “Photodiode Amplifier Design

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  5. I saw the presentation at DEFCON. It was informative, well presented and fun but your video has it topped. A great description of the challenges and design methodology.

    I m looking forward to finding some time to download the files and build a few of these and go hunting for IR signals.

  6. Hello Craig. I like your blog and love the projects! If you will need any help or support for PCB design let me know. I’m looking for some cool projects for PCB design!

  7. Pingback: IRis - An Infrared Sensor using Photodiode amplification Circuit - Electronics-Lab

  8. Hello Craig, nice project talk. Reverse bias actually improves responsivity, but only slightly. Reverse bias does decrease junction capactince significantly which can allow higher operational bandwidth. Another way to improve circuit stability is place some resistance (100 ohms can help a lot) in series with the photodiode, especially for large area devices which can have hundreds of pF’s of capacitance.

    • You’re right of course Kurt, and the photodiode datasheets reflect that too! I’ve made a correction in the video. Thanks as always!

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  11. Hi Craig,

    Nice post and information on IRis! I’d like to play around with some of this myself but it does not look like OSH Park still carries the PC boards. Before I just have a handful made myself, I thought I would check to see if you had any around or if there might be anyone else out there who would see this post and be interested in getting one or more as well!

    Thanks so much for the info on this as well as everything on Analog Zoo – great stuff!

    Marshall Cummings

  12. Hello Craig, great job and very interesting project!
    Could you, please, advise an exact replacement for MMBF4117CT-ND without changing board layout, or main parameters for searching replacement on digykey?
    Thank you very much.

  13. Hey Craig,

    I would like to chat with you about the IRis and other application of the IR sensor/circuit. Would you have time to talk with me about it?

  14. Pingback: IRis: un sensor de infrarrojos que utiliza un circuito de amplificación de fotodiodo - Calendae

  15. Hi craig, i wonder somethink about your project. if we use apd or sapd photodiode should we change anythink on this circuit?
    for apd or spad photodiode should we calculate again on your project?
    which ways you follow to calculate and desing as in your project?

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