The asymmetric nano-channel diode (ANCD) is the 2-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) semiconductor nanodevice that, unlike a conventional diode, relies on the device nanostructure and field-controlled transport in a ballistic nanometerwidth channel instead of barriers to develop its asymmetric, diode-like current-voltage (I-V) characteristics. We focus on ANCD optoelectronic properties, and demonstrate that the devices can act as very sensitive, single-photon-level, visiblelight photodetectors. Our test structures consist of 2-μm-long and ~230-nm-wide channels and were fabricated using electron-beam lithography on a GaAs/AlGaAs heterostructure with a 2DEG layer, followed by reactive ion etching. The I-V curves were collected by measuring the transport current under the voltage-source biasing condition, both in the dark and under light illumination. The experiments were conducted inside a cryostat, in a temperature range from 300 K to 78 K. As an optical excitation, we used a 800-nm-wavelength, generated by a commercial Ti:sapphire laser operated either at a quasi-continuous–wave mode or as a source of 100-fs-wide pulses. The impact of the light illumination was very clear, and at low temperatures we observed a significant photocurrent Iph ~ 0.25 μA at temperature 78 K for the incident optical power as low as 1 nW, with a limited dark-current background. The magnitude of the device optical responsivity increased linearly with the decrease of the optical power, reaching for 1-nW optical excitation the value as high as ~400 A/W at room temperature and >800 A/W at 78K. The physics of the photoresponse gain mechanism in the ANCD arises from a vast disparity between the sub-picosecond transit time of photo-excited electrons travelling in the 2DEG nanochannel and the up to microsecond lifetime of photo-excited holes pushed towards the device substrate.
Y. Akbas, T. Plecenik, P. Ďurina, A. Plecenik, A. Jukna, G. Wicks, and Roman Sobolewski, "Ultra-high optical responsivity of semiconducting asymmetric nano-channel diodes for photon detection," Proc. SPIE 10229, Photon Counting Applications 2017, 102290N (Presented at SPIE Optics + Optoelectronics: April 26, 2017; Published: 15 May 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2270908.
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