Type-II interband quantum dot photodetectors

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Photon detectors based on single-crystalline materials are of great interest for high performance imaging applications due to their low noise and fast response. The major detector materials for sensing in the long-wavelength infrared (LWIR) band (8-14 µm) are currently HgCdTe (MCT) and AlGaAs/GaAs quantum wells (QW) used in intraband-based quantum-well infrared photodetectors (QWIPs). These either suffer from compositional variations that are detrimental to the system performance as in the case of MCT, or, have an efficient dark current generation mechanism that limits the operating temperature as for QWIPs. The need for increased on-wafer uniformity and elevated operating temperatures has resulted in the development of various alternative approaches, such as type-II strained-layer superlattice detectors (SLSs) and intraband quantum-dot infrared photodetectors (QDIPs).In this work, we mainly explore two self-assembled quantum-dot (QD) materials for use as the absorber material in photon detectors for the LWIR, with the aim to develop low-dark current devices that can allow for high operating temperatures and high manufacturability. The detection mechanism is here based on type-II interband transitions from bound hole states in the QDs to continuum states in the matrix material.Metal-organic vapor-phase epitaxy (MOVPE) was used to fabricate (Al)GaAs(Sb)/InAs and In(Ga)Sb/InAs QD structures for the development of an LWIR active material. A successive analysis of (Al)GaAs(Sb) QDs using absorption spectroscopy shows strong absorption in the range 6-12 µm interpreted to originate in intra-valence band transitions. Moreover, record-long photoluminescence (PL) wavelength up to 12 µm is demonstrated in InSb- and InGaSb QDs.Mesa-etched single-pixel photodiodes were fabricated in which photoresponse is demonstrated up to 8 µm at 230 K with 10 In0.5Ga0.5Sb QD layers as the active region. The photoresponse is observed to be strongly temperature-dependent which is explained by hole trapping in the QDs. In the current design, the photoresponse is thermally limited at typical LWIR sensor operating temperatures (60-120 K), which is detrimental to the imaging performance. This can potentially be resolved by selecting a matrix material with a smaller barrier for thermionic emission of photo-excited holes. If such an arrangement can be achieved, type-II interband InGaSb QD structures can turn out to be interesting as a high-operating-temperature sensor material for thermal imaging applications.