Design, Growth, and Characterization of Mid Infrared and Terahertz Detectors Based on Nanostructures
Choi, Jae Kyu
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In the first part of the dissertation, I present the design, growth, and characterization a multi-color quantum well infrared photodetecor (QWIP). The QWIP is based on GaAs/Al0.2Ga0.8As coupled double-quantum-well structure with asymmetric doping of the wells. The asymmetry resulted into a new property of the detector – voltage tunability of the QWIP multicolor spectrum. Three major mechanisms contributing into the photoresponse were analyzed: 1) electron energy level shifting due to the quantum-confined Stark effect, 2) tunneling process at the triangular tip of barrier, which is known Fowler-Nordheim effect, and 3) thermoactivation processes. The experimental and theoretical results are in good agreement with the simulation results using Matlab and nextnano 3 software. The QWIP structure was grown by the solid source molecular beam epitaxy, and was experimentally characterized by performing current-voltage characteristics and spectral photoresponse measurement. The effective voltage tunability and switchability of spectral photoresponse were demonstrated in the spectral range between 7.5 ∼ 11.1 μm. The low noise QWIP operation (at the dark current as low as 3 ?10-3 A/cm2) was demonstrated up to 60 K. The results are promising for development of accurate remote temperature sensing. In the second part, we present the results on design, fabrication, and characterization of a hot-electron bolometer based on low mobility 2-D electron gas (2-DEG) in an AlGaN/GaN heterostructure. The characterization of the hot-electron bolometer (HEB) demonstrated that we could simultaneously achieve the following conditions required for successful operation of 2-DEG HEB: 1) strong coupling to incident THz radiation due to strong Drude absorption; 2) significant THz heating of 2-DEG due to the small value of the electron heat capacity: and 3) high responsivity due to the strong temperature dependence of 2-DEG resistance. We identified THz response from our HEBs as a bolometric effect through modulation dependent photoresponse measurement. Low contact resistance achieved in our devices ensures that THz radiation couples primarily to the 2-DEG. Due to a small electron momentum relaxation time, the real part of the 2-DEG sensor impedance is ∼ 50-100 Ohm, which provides good impedance matching between sensors and antennas. For effective THz coupling to 2-DEG, a variety of THz planar antennas have been designed, tested, and optimized. The room temperature responsivity of our devices reaches ∼0.04 A/W at 2.55 THz along with a noise equivalent power of ∼5 nW/Hz 1/2 . Finally, prospects for high performance of HEBs by improving the design of the sensor and THz coupling to 2DEG design are proposed.