, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 630-639

HgCdTe electron avalanche photodiodes

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Exponential-gain values well in excess of 1,000 have been obtained in HgCdTe high-density, vertically integrated photodiode (HDVIP) avalanche photodiodes (APDs) with essentially zero excess noise. This phenomenon has been observed at temperatures in the range of 77–260 K for a variety of cutoff wavelengths in the mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) band, with evidence of similar behavior in other IR bands. A theory for electron avalanche multiplication has been developed using density of states and electron-interaction matrix elements associated with the unique band structure of HgCdTe, with allowances being made for the relevant scattering mechanisms of both electrons and holes at these temperatures. This theory is used to develop an empirical model to fit the experimental data obtained at DRS Infrared Technologies. The functional dependence of gain on applied bias voltage is obtained by the use of one adjustable parameter relating electron energy to applied voltage. A more quantitative physical theory requires the use of Monte Carlo techniques incorporating the preceding scattering rates and ionization probabilities. This has been performed at the University of Texas at Austin, and preliminary data indicate good agreement with DRS models for both avalanche gain and excess noise as a function of applied bias. These data are discussed with a view to applications at a variety of wavelengths.