Microcavity plasma photodetectors: Photosensitivity, dynamic range, and the plasma-semiconductor interface

N. P. Ostrom, J. G. Eden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Detailed measurements of the photosensitivity of Si microcavity plasma photodetectors in the visible and near-infrared (420-1100 nm) are reported for input optical intensities to a 100×100 μ m2 inverted pyramid device varied over three orders of magnitude (10-5 - 10-2 W cm-2). By resolving the contribution to the overall device response from the plasma/semiconductor interaction, as opposed to bulk Si photoconductivity, the photosensitivity of the plasma photodetector operating in 500 Torr of Ne was determined to range from (2.2±0.4) AW for 2 nW of input power (at λ=780 nm) to (1.3±0.2) AW at ∼0.65 μW. The spectral response profile of the hybrid plasma/semiconductor detector is similar to that of a conventional pn junction photodiode, but is blueshifted by ∼60 nm. Also, the peak photosensitivity (3.5 AW at λ≃900 nm) of a Si microplasma device having a 50×50 μ m2 aperture is approximately twice that for its larger (100×100 μ m2) counterpart under identical conditions. Analysis of the data suggest that bandbending at the p -Si surface is sufficiently strong for a thin n -type region to form, thereby resembling a metal-oxide-semiconductor capacitor in the inversion mode. Electrons in this thin layer tunnel through the vacuum (Si-plasma) barrier, followed by electron avalanche in the nonequilibrium plasma. These results illustrate the potential for novel optoelectronic devices when interfacing a plasma with a semiconductor and coupling the two media with a strong electric field imposed across the interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number141101
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number14
StatePublished - Oct 3 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)

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