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Material-to-device performance correlation for AlGaN-based solar-blind p–i–n photodiodes

TitleMaterial-to-device performance correlation for AlGaN-based solar-blind p–i–n photodiodes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsKalra, A, Rathkanthiwar, S, Muralidharan, R, Raghavan, S, Nath, DN
JournalSemiconductor Science and Technology

We report on crystalline quality-to-device performance correlation for self-powered Al0.40Ga0.60N, p–i–n ultraviolet (UV) photodetectors on c-plane sapphire. The active p–i–n detector stack was grown over an AlN buffer. Careful optimization of the nucleation density on growth surface helped achieve a two-orders and one-order of magnitude reduction in the screw and edge dislocation density in the buffer layer, respectively. This resulted in a nine-orders of magnitude reduction in the reverse leakage current from 4.3 mA to 4.2 pA (at 10 V). Correspondingly, a thirteen-fold enhancement in the zero-bias external quantum efficiency (EQE) from 3.4% to 45.5%, when measured under 289 nm front-illumination was also observed. The detector epi-stack grown over the optimal AlN buffer layers led to the realization of high-performance p–i–n detectors with a dark current density below 4 nA cm−2 at 10 V and a zero-bias EQE of 74.7% under back-illumination. This is one of the highest zero-bias EQE reported for solar-blind detectors realized on template-free and mask-free III-nitrides grown using metal organic chemical vapor deposition on any substrate. The deep-UV-to-visible rejection ratio exceeded 106 while the deep-UV-to-near UV rejection exceeded 103. The thermal-noise limited detectivity was estimated to be 4 × 1014 cm Hz1/2 W−1. Hopping conduction along screw dislocation-mediated localized trap states was found to be the dominant carrier transport mechanism in the samples exhibiting high reverse leakage. For these samples, the responsivity (photocurrent) exhibited an exponential variation with reverse bias and a nonlinear variation with input optical power. This is explained using a hole-trapping associated gain mechanism and its impact on the transient characteristics of the detectors is investigated. A 6 × 1 linear array of the highest EQE detectors was realized and detector performance parameters were found to be comparable before and after wire bonding. This study is expected to enhance the understanding of III-nitrides-based vertical, self-powered detectors and benefit the development of high-performance, focal plane arrays using less complicated growth techniques.