Avalanche Photodiodes (APDs) are key semiconductor components that amplify weak optical signals via the impact ionization process, but this process' stochastic nature introduces 'excess' noise, limiting the useful signal to noise ratio (or sensitivity) that is practically achievable. The APD material's electron and hole ionization coefficients (α and β respectively) are critical parameters in this regard, with very disparate values of α and β necessary to minimize this excess noise. Here, the analysis of thirteen complementary p-i-n/n-i-p diodes shows that alloying GaAs with ≤ 5.1 % Bi dramatically reduces β while leaving α virtually unchanged-enabling a 2 to 100-fold enhancement of the GaAs α/β ratio while extending the wavelength beyond 1.1 µm. Such a dramatic change in only β is unseen in any other dilute alloy and is attributed to the Bi-induced increase of the spin-orbit splitting energy (∆so). Valence band engineering in this way offers an attractive route to enable low noise semiconductor APDs to be developed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)