Zeitschrift für Physik B Condensed Matter

, Volume 99, Issue 2, pp 185–195 | Cite as

Dynamics of stochastically induced and spatially inhomogeneous impurity breakdown in semiconductors

  • R. E. Kunz
  • E. Schöll
Original Contributions


Impact ionization of trapped carriers in high electric fields at Helium temperatures can lead to threshold switching, i.e., switching of a semiconductor sample from a nearly insulating state to a high conducting steady state due to an applied voltage that exceeds the threshold value for breakdown. This phenomenon is investigated theoretically based on a set of partial differential equations containing the relevant carrier transport mechanisms. In a first analysis the impact of fluctuations on the breakdown process within the framework of a master equation description of spatially homogeneous generation-recombination kinetics is computed. Then, taking into account spatially inhomogeneous longitudinal modes, we find that threshold switching constitutes a three-stage process, consisting of a stage of front creation and propagation, a stage dominated by a seesawlike mode, and one in which impact ionization occurs nearly homogeneously throughout the sample.


72.20.Ht 05.40.+j 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. E. Kunz
    • 1
  • E. Schöll
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Theoretische PhysikTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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