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Axial p–n junction photodetectors based on single germanium nanowires

Echresh, A.; Shaikh, M. S.; Arora, H.; Erbe, A.; Rebohle, L.; Georgiev, Y.


Germanium (Ge) is considered as a promising candidate for designing near-infrared photodetectors. Ge has a bandgap of 0.67 eV, which induces a large absorption coefficient at near-infrared frequencies. Also, Ge has excellent compatibility of parallel processing with silicon technology [1,2]. Photodetectors based on Ge material have been fabricated with different structures such as metal-semiconductor-metal (MSM) and p−n junctions. On the other hand, the observation of high photoresponsivity in semiconductor nanowires with a high surface-to-volume ratio has attracted growing interest in using nanowires in photodetectors. So far, significant efforts have been made to fabricate single nanowire based photodetectors with different materials such as Si, Ge, and GaN to achieve miniaturized devices with high responsivity and short response time [3-5]. Hence, Ge nanowires are an excellent candidate to fabricated single nanowire based near-infrared photodetectors.

In this work, we report on the fabrication and characterization of an axial p−n junction along Ge nanowires with different widths. First, through a resist mask created by electron beam lithography (EBL), the Ge layers were locally doped with phosphorus ions using ion beam implantation followed by rear-side flash lamp annealing. Then, the single Ge nanowire based photodetectors containing an axial p−n junction were fabricated using EBL and inductively coupled plasma reactive ion etching (ICP-RIE). The fabricated single Ge nanowire devices demonstrate the rectifying current-voltage characteristic of a p−n diode in dark conditions. Moreover, the photoresponse of the axial p−n junction based photodetectors was investigated under three different illumination lights of 637 nm, 785 nm, and 1550 nm wavelengths. It appears that fabricated photodetectors can be operated at zero bias and at room temperature under ambient conditions. A high responsivity of 3.7×102 AW-1, and detectivity of 1.9×1013 cmHz1/2W-1 were observed at zero bias under illumination of 785-nm-wavelength. The responsivity of the single Ge NW photo-detectors was increased by applying a reverse bias of 1V.

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