Andrew Jones engineers photodetectors, the unsung heroes of optoelectronics.

“Photodetectors are used in so many different areas,” Jones said. “We are pushing the boundary for applications in imaging, telecommunications, and quantum computing.”

Jones, a post-doctoral researcher in Professor Joe Campbell’s photonic devices group, designed a very low noise avalanche photodiode for two-micron detection that produces more electrons than the photons it takes in, thereby providing gain to the detected optical signal. Two-micron light remains gentle on the eye, and this built-in amplification allows for improved resolution of signals collected by light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors.

“I like to be hands-on,” Jones said. “We have great labs with great equipment. I do a lot of on-the-fly thinking as I test things out. Building on-chip devices in the newly renovated cleanroom is a really important aspect of my job.”

UVA Engineering represented a homecoming for Jones, who grew up and has family in the Shenandoah Valley. He earned his undergraduate degree at Grove City College in Western Pennsylvania. Jones brought awareness of defense industry partners with him; between his undergraduate and graduate studies he worked for a Pittsburgh-based firm that provides contract support to the U.S. Navy.

Jones joined Campbell’s group in 2016 and earned his Ph.D. four short years later, making a smooth transition into his post-doctoral research role. “I really enjoy the group interaction and love one-on-one teaching. As a post-doc I have more opportunities to help new group members get up to speed and set them up for success,” Jones said.

“When people come into our group, I encourage them to find the things that make them excited. That’s certainly true for me and what I do,” Jones said.  He credits Campbell for fostering his passion for the field of optoelectronics.

“What we do in Joe’s research group is one third engineering, one third materials science and one third physics,” Jones said. “We get to do a lot of science and take the traditional path of publishing in journals.”

Jones first-authored Low-noise high-temperature AlInAsSb/GaSb avalanche photodiodes for 2-μm applications and co-authored Multistep staircase avalanche photodiodes with extremely low noise and deterministic amplification, two of the team’s recent papers, both published in Nature Photonics.

The annual award memorializes Philip A. Parrish, former interim vice president and associate vice president for research at UVA. James Tang, a postdoctoral researcher in associate professor of chemical engineering Bryan Berger’s lab, also earned a fellowship award to study the genetic structures of “accessory proteins” in the SARS-CoV2 virus to understand how the proteins interact with the host’s immune system. Tang earned his Ph.D. in 2019, working with assistant professor of chemical engineering Kyle Lampe.

Andrew Jones at Instrument in Photonic Devices Lab

Andrew Jones works with a high-vacuum cryogenic chamber. Microscopic semiconductor avalanche photodiodes, which have been fabricated in UVA’s clean room, can be tested in this chamber at near liquid-nitrogen temperatures. This chamber can be used for DC, AC, and optical measurements in order to better characterize the devices’ performance. These tests include such parameters as gain, capacitance, dark current, and noise.