Deep Impurity Levels in Semiconductors. Current State of Our understanding

  • M. D. Sturge


A “deep” level in a semiconductor is a localized state with energy within the forbidden gap, which cannot be described in terms of effective mass theory. Instead of being spread out over a large volume of the crystal, the wave function is concentrated within one or two atomic spacings of the center (impurity atom, lattice defect, or complex) with which it is associated. The energy level is usually near the middle of the gap, rather than near one or other band edge. Because of the extreme localization of the charge on the center, there is often a substantial change in the local atomic configuration when the charge is changed by capture or emission of an electron or hole. This leads to a very strong electronphonon interaction at the center. These centers are important technically for two reasons: they provide non-radiative paths for electron-hole recombination; and by pinning the Fermi level near the middle of the gap, they can produce “semi-insulating” material, whose resistivity is close to intrinsic even though the impurity content is quite high. The most important deep centers are those produced by transition metal impurities, and by lattice defects such as vacancies. The Watkins model of the vacancy, in which the wave function is a linear combination of the dangling bond orbitals of the four nearest neighbor atoms [1], is not only an aid to visualization, but gives a remarkably accurate description of the ground state in a wide variety of centers. Recent calculations by Baraff, Schluter and their coworkers [2] have put this model on a firm theoretical basis and provided useful predictions of excited states and electronphonon interactions at lattice defects.


Lattice Defect Impurity Atom Phonon Interaction Jahn Teller Jahn Teller Effect 
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  1. 1.
    For an account of this model, and its application to the various charge states of the vacancy in silicon, see M, D, Sturge, “The Jahn Teller effect in solids”, section 19, in Advances in Solid State Physics, eds. F. Seitz, D. Turnbull and H. Ehrenreich, vol. 20, p. 91 (1967).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See, for instance, M. Schluter and L. J. Sham, Physics Today 35(2), 35 (1982.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3a.
    The correct description of this center is still controversial: see, P. J. Dean, The Story of O in GaP and Related Semiconductors (London: Gordon & Breach, 1984)Google Scholar
  4. 3b.
    T. N. Morgan, Physica 117/118 B&C, p. 146 (1983)Google Scholar
  5. 3c.
    K. J. Nash, P. J. Dean and M. S. Skolnick, Proc. 18th Int. Conf. on Defects in Semiconductors, eds. L.C. Kimerling and J.M. Parsey (New York: AMIE, 1985), p. 1083.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    K. M. Lee, L. C. Kimerling and M. D. Sturge, to appear in MRS Annual Symposium on the Microscopic Identification of Defects in Semiconductors, ed. N. B. Johnson et. al, 1985.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    See M. Kaminska, M. Skowronski and W. Kuszko, Phys, Rev. Letters 55, 2204 (1985), and references therein.ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 6.
    M. S. Skolnick, T. D. Harris, C. W. Tu, T. M. Brennan and M. D. Sturge, Applied Phys. Lett. 46, 427 (1985).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. D. Sturge
    • 1
  1. 1.Bell Communications ResearchMurray HillUSA

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