Ge-on-Si SPAD Publications

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As noted in comments to my previous post on Heriot Watt University Ge-on-Si SPADs, there is a similar work in Eduardo Charbon group in EPFL and Delft University. The most recent development is presented in open-access IEEE TED paper "CMOS-Compatible PureGaB Ge-on-Si APD Pixel Arrays" by Amir Sammak, Mahdi Aminian, Lis K. Nanver, and Edoardo Charbon:

"Pure gallium and pure boron (PureGaB) Ge-on-Si photodiodes were fabricated in a CMOS compatible process and operated in linear and avalanche mode. Three different pixel geometries with very different area-to-perimeter ratios were investigated in linear arrays of 300 pixels with each a size of 26 x 26 mu m(2). The processing of anode contacts at the anode perimeters leaving oxide covered PureGaB-only light-entrance windows, created perimeter defects that increased the vertical Ge volume but did not deteriorate the diode ideality. The dark current at 1 V reverse bias was below 35 mu A/cm(2) at room temperature and below the measurement limit of 2.5 x 10(-2) mu A/cm(2) at 77 K. Spread in dark current levels and optical gain, that reached the range of 10(6) at 77 K, was lowest for the devices with largest perimeter. All device types were reliably operational in a wide temperature range from 77 K to room temperature. The spectral sensitivity of the detectors extended from visible to the telecom band with responsivities of 0.15 and 0.135 A/W at 850 and 940 nm, respectively."

Leeds University publishes a PhD Thesis "Electronic Transport Properties of Silicon-Germanium Single Photon Avalanche Detectors" by Helen Rafferty.

"Single photon avalanche detectors (SPADs) have uses in a number of applications, including time-of-flight ranging, quantum key distribution and low-light sensing. Germanium has an absorption edge at the key communications wavelengths of 1.3-1.55um, and can be grown epitaxially on silicon, however, SiGe SPADs exhibit a number of performance limitations, including low detection efficiencies, high dark counts and afterpulsing. Unintentional doping may affect electronic performance, and band-to-band tunnelling at high operational voltages SPADs may lead to noise currents. Additionally, defects in the Si/Ge interface lead to trap states within the bandgap and contribute to afterpulsing.

This work investigates a range of critical performance parameters in SiGe SPADs. The effect of intentional and unintentional doping in SPADs on electric fields, potential profiles and carrier transport in the device is investigated, and optimal dopant profiles for a SiGe SPAD discussed. The dependence of band-to-band tunnelling currents in Ge on bias voltage, Ge thickness and temperature is investigated, and these currents are compared to other sources of noise currents in SPADs. DFT calculations of misfit dislocation structures in Ge are undertaken, to establish electronic bandstructures and optimised geometries for these defects, and identify trap states in the bandgap, which may contribute to afterpulsing and dark counts in SPADs. A number of directions for continuing work are identified, to progress understanding of noise currents and afterpulsing in SPADs.

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