The performance and operating temperature of infrared (IR) detectors is largely limited by thermal generation and noise processes in the active region of the device. Particularly, excess background charge carriers enhance Auger recombination and dark currents, and depress the detector figures of merit. Therefore, reducing background carriers in the undoped region of pin diodes is an important issue for developing high-operating temperature IR detectors. In this
paper, we discuss how, through low-temperature Hall measurements, we optimized several growth and design parameters to lower residual carrier densities in various mid-IR InAs/GaSb superlattice (SL) designs. Among the growth/processing parameters investigated in the 21 Å InAs/24 Å GaSb SLs, neither growth temperature nor in-situ
post-growth annealing significantly affected the overall carrier type and density. All of the mid-IR SL samples
investigated were residually p-type. The lowest carrier density (1.8x1011 cm-2) was achieved in SLs grown at 400 °C and
the density was not reduced any further by a post-growth anneal. The growth parameter that most affected the carrier
density was interface composition control. With a minor variation in interface shutter sequence, the carrier density
dramatically increased from ~2x1011 to 5x1012 cm-2, and the corresponding mobility dropped from 6600 to 26 cm2/Vs,
indicating a degradation of interface quality. However, the carrier density was further reduced to 1x1011 cm-2 by
increasing the GaSb layer width. More importantly, a dramatic improvement on the photoluminescence intensity was
achieved with wider GaSb SLs. The disadvantage is that as GaSb layer width increases from 24 to 48 Å, the photoluminescence peak position shifts from 4.1 to 3.4 μm, for a fixed InAs width of 21 Å, indicating a photodiode based on these wider designs would fall short of fully covering the 3 to 5 μm mid-IR spectral region.
The purpose of this work is to explore mid-infrared (IR) photodetector materials that can operate at room temperature. Shorter-period InAs/GaSb superlattices (SLs) have larger intervalance band seperations, which is beneficial for reducing Auger recombination and tunneling current, thus making room temperature operation possible. To test these possibilities, several short-period SLs ranging from 50 to 11 Å were designed for 4 μm detection threshold and molecular beam epitaxy was used to grow specially designed structures. Since morphological degradation is generally expected in shorter-period SLs, their structural qualities were monitored by transmission electron microscopy. The effect of layer properties on the optical and electrical properties was studied using low temperature photoconductivity measurements and magnetic field dependent Hall measurements. The samples with larger-periods (50 to 31 Å) showed excellent structural qualities, leading to sharper photoresponse band edge (5 meV) and lower residual background carrier concentrations (8x1010 cm-2). As the period approached 24 Å, slight layer thickness undulations within the SLs were observed and these undulations intensified as the period further reduced to 17 Å. Evidently, these structural degradations strongly influence their optical properties causing significant broadening in photoresponse band edge (9 meV). In the thinner samples with the period below 17 Å, no optical signal was detected. With slower growth rates, samples with periods as thin as 19 Å were grown without significant layer thickness variations.
For type-II superlattices with spatially indirect optical transitions across the band gap, short-period superlattices are often employed. The oscillator strength of intraband transitions, from holes states confined in one layer to electron states confined in a neighboring layer, are enhanced by increasing the wave function overlap of these states through reduced superlattice period. However, there are limits to accurately controlling an epitaxially grown semiconductor superlattice structure as the number of monolayers in each layer is decreased. For InAs/GaSb type superlattices, periods of 40Å or less are relevant to mid-infrared detection. Characterization and modeling results for a series of InAs/GaSb superlattices with periods ranging 50Å to 20Å will be presented. These results explore the break point between when thinner is better and when reducing the period no longer optimizes the superlattice optical performance.
Type-II superlattices composed of alternating thin layers of InAs and GaSb, have been shown to be a highly flexible infrared materials system in which the energy band gap can be adjusted anywhere between 360 meV and 40 meV. These superlattices (SLs) are the III-V equivalent to the well established HgxCd1-xTe alloys used for infrared detection in the short, mid and long wavelength bands of the infrared spectrum. There are many possible designs for these superlattices that will produce the same narrow band gap by adjusting individual layer thicknesses and interface composition. Systematic growth and characterization studies were performed to determine optimum superlattice designs suitable for infrared detection in the 3 to 5 μm wavelength band. For these studies the individual layer thicknesses were less than 35Å. The effects of adding different thickness InSb-like interfaces were also studied. Through precision molecular beam epitaxy, design changes as small as 3Å to the SL layers could be studied. Significant changes were observed in the infrared photoresponse spectra of the various SL samples. The infrared properties of the various designs of these type-II superlattices were modeled using an 8-band Envelope Function Approximation. The infrared photoresponse spectra, combined with quantum mechanical modeling of predicted absorption spectra, were a key factor in the design optimization of the InAs/GaSb superlattices with band gaps in the range of 200 to 360 meV.
In the very long wavelength infrared (VLWIR) band, λ>14 microns, the detector materials are currently limited to extrinsic semiconductors. These extrinsic materials can be either heavily doped bulk semiconductor, like silicon or germanium, or a doped quantum well heterostructure. An alternative choice that provides the opportunity for higher temperature operation for VLWIR sensing is an intrinsic material based on a type-II InAs/Ga(In)Sb superlattice. There are many possible designs for these superlattices which will produce the same narrow band gap by adjusting individual layer thicknesses, indium content or substrate orientation. The infrared properties of various compositions and designs of these type-II superlattices have been studied. In the past few years, excellent results have been obtained on photoconductive and photodiode samples designed for infrared detection beyond 15 microns. An overview of the status of this material system will be presented. In addition, the latest experimental results for superlattice photodiodes with cut-off wavelengths as long as 30 microns will be covered.
New infrared (IR) detector materials with high sensitivity, multi-spectral capability, improved uniformity and lower manufacturing costs are required for numerous long and very long wavelength infrared imaging applications. One materials system has shown great theoretical and, more recently, experimental promise for these applications: InAs/InxGa1-xSb type-II superlattices. In the past few years, excellent results have been obtained on photoconductive and photodiode samples designed for infrared detection beyond 15 microns. The infrared properties of various compositions and designs of these type-II superlattices have been studied. The infrared photoresponse spectra are combined with quantum mechanical modeling of predicted absorption spectra to provide insight into the underlying physics behind the quantum sensing in these materials. Results for superlattice photodiodes with cut-off wavelengths as long as 25 microns will be presented.