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26 July 1999 Performance analysis of a thermionic thermal detector at 400 K, 300 K, and 200 K
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Abstract
The thermionic thermal detector (TTD) sense IR radiation by temperature modulation of thermionic emission current within a silicon Schottky diode. The thermionic emission current is the well known Richardson dark current. The TTD operates in the LWIR band. The physics of TTD operation is distinct from that of silicon Schottky barrier MWIR detectors, such as PtSi/Si which are based on internal photoemission. In fact, the TTD has high detection efficiency. The architecture of a TTD array is very similar to that of microbolometer arrays, expect the detector elements are thermally isolated Schottky diodes, operating under reverse bias. When the TTD array is illuminated by an IR image, the temperature of individual detector elements will vary with the local incident power of the image. Under small signal conditions, the dark current of individual detectors will vary as temperature, resulting in an electronic image of the IR scene. The reverse bias dark current of a Schottky diode varies exponentially with temperature. For the small temperature variations observed on the focal pane of an uncooled sensor, this variation is approximately linear. The rate of temperature variation is determined by the Schottky barrier potential and, to a lesser extent by the applied bias potential. The operating temperature range of the detector can be designed into the device by selecting a metal with the appropriate Schottky barrier height. Experimental Schottky barrier heights were determined using Richardson dark current activation energy analysis. Devices optimized for operating at room ambient temperature have a 6 percent K temperature coefficient. The use of Schottky diode thermionic emission for uncooled IR imaging offers several advantages relative to current technology. TTD manufacture is 100 percent silicon processing compatible. Schottky barrier based thermionic emissions array have the same uniformity characteristics as MWIR Schottky barrier photoemissive arrays. Operating TTDs in reverse bias provides a high impedance 'current source' to the multiplexer, resulting in negligible Johnson noise. This mode of operation also results in negligible detector 1/f-noise and drift. In addition, the TTD thermionic emission detection process has high efficiency, fully comparable with the best current thermal detectors.
© (1999) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
James E. Murguia, Prabha K. Tedrow, Freeman D. Shepherd, Darin Leahy, and Melanie M. Weeks "Performance analysis of a thermionic thermal detector at 400 K, 300 K, and 200 K", Proc. SPIE 3698, Infrared Technology and Applications XXV, (26 July 1999); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.354538
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