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2 APRIL 2001

Integration of n -type and p -type quantum-well infrared photodetectors for sequential multicolor operation
E. Dupont,a) M. Gao,b) Z. Wasilewski, and H. C. Liu
Institute for Microstructural Sciences, National Research Council, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R6, Canada

Received 16 January 2001; accepted for publication 2 February 2001 A multicolor infrared photodetector based on the epitaxial integration of an n -type with a p -type GaAs/AlGaAs quantum-well stack is experimentally demonstrated. Additionally, a quantum-well GaAs light-emitting diode is inserted between the stacks to achieve up-conversion of mid-infrared radiation to near-infrared signal. This device shows a remarkable selectivity on wavelength: depending on the bias voltage the peak wavelength detection can be switched on and off between 9.1 and 4.85 m. 2001 American Institute of Physics. DOI: 10.1063/1.1359482

The technology of quantum-well infrared photodetector QWIP is presently developed to the stage of commercialization of single-color focal plane arrays FPA and demonstration of two-color arrays.13 The recent two-color FPA demonstrated in Refs. 2 and 3 uses three lead pixels for independent reading of the two QWIP stacks.4 This is made at the cost of complexity of the readout circuit and hybridization, of the grating performance, and to a smaller extent, of the ll factor 70%. Interface dual-band FPAs developed at JPL1 solves the rst two problems, but it sacrices the ll factor to 50% for each wavelength. For some applications, a sequential reading of the color may be sufcient. For this purpose the wavelength sensitivity of the QWIP can be controlled by the bias. With such a device, sequential multicolor infrared imaging is possible without sacricing the ll factor of the FPA, and standard readout circuits can be used. Different approaches have been tested for sequential wavelength 5 and Tsai6 tested devices where different detection: Grave quantum well stacks are simply grown on top of each other. Liu7 and Lenchyshyn8 looked in detail at the operation of two lead devices composed of different QWIP stacks separated by conducting layers. Another option is to take advantage of the voltage control of the carrier escape probability at different energies in asymmetric QW structures.9,10 Following our research on the integration of QWIP with light-emitting diode LED for pixelless infrared imaging, we show in this letter that sequential two-color imaging is possible with the QWIPLED technology. The device demonstrated here is a combination of n -type QWIP, LED, and p -type QWIP for sequential detection at 9 or 5 m. One attractive quality of this device is that the p -QWIP stack, unlike the n -QWIP, does not need a light coupler such as a diffraction grating. This can be an advantage when making a multicolor FPA with such a structure. The operation of QWIPLED devices is based on direct injection of carriers photoexcited in the QWIP by mid or far infrared M/FIR radiation into the LED active region, and subsequent emission of near infrared NIR radiation. Thus, a QWIPLED operates as a converter of M/FIR to NIR light. An important

technological advantage of the QWIPLED approach is that it allows fabrication of large two-dimensional FPAs with NIR output, which can be easily imaged by well-developed devices such as Si CCDs. This approach could eliminate the need for hybrid integration of QWIP with a Si readout circuit and opens up the possibility of a pixelless imaging scheme.11 The sample was grown by molecular beam epitaxy on a semi-insulating 001 GaAs substrate. The layer structure is schematically shown in Fig. 1. The parameters of the p -type QWIP are derived from earlier optimization studies. The second light-hole subband LH2 is in resonance with the barrier12,13 for large in-plane polarization absorption 0.05% peak absorption per well. The 250 barrier is wide enough to prevent interwell tunneling in a 5 m p -QWIP stack.14 The optimum doping concentration of a 5 m p -QWIP was found to be about 1 2 1012 cm 2 for high dark current limited detectivity and highest background limited infrared performance BLIP temperature.14 Increasing the doping to 4 1012 cm 2 would result in slightly higher integrated absorption, but at the expense of a large increase in thermionic emission. In total, the dark current detectivity would be reduced, as well as the BLIP temperature. However, to avoid high eld formation in the p -QWIP we deliberately tried to bring the impedance of the shortwavelength p -QWIP closer to the long-wavelength

Electronic mail: emmanuel.dupont@nrc.ca Present address: Zenastra Photonics Inc., 2305 St. Laurent Bvd., Ottawa, Ontario K1G 4J8.

FIG. 1. Schematic of the n -QWIP/LED/ p -QWIP structure.

0003-6951/2001/78(14)/2067/3/$18.00 2067 2001 American Institute of Physics Downloaded 04 Jun 2001 to Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright, see http://ojps.aip.org/aplo/aplcr.jsp


Appl. Phys. Lett., Vol. 78, No. 14, 2 April 2001

Dupont et al.

FIG. 2. Voltagecurrent characteristics of a 290140 m2 device for different lattice temperatures with solid lines and without dashed lines a f /1.75 room temperature background illumination.

n -QWIP. For this purpose we chose a high carrier concentration in the well (4 1012 cm 2 ). A similar way of thinking was adopted when choosing the doping concentration in the n -QWIP: The low Si concentration of 1 1011 cm 2 is also meant to bring the resistivity of the long-wavelength stack closer to that of the shorter-wavelength stack. The LED structure between the two QWIPs should have little inuence on the LED resistance since it is negligible when turned on. Mesa devices of 290140 m2 in size were processed by standard GaAs processing and a 45 facet was polished to couple the infrared radiation with the n -type intersubband transitions. An open window 200100 m2 on the top of the mesa allows us to test the LED. The leakage current with and without the f /1.75 room temperature background radiation was measured at temperatures from 90 to 40 K with a close-cycle refrigerator. The results are plotted in Fig. 2. One can see that between 9 and 14 V the BLIP temperature is 70 K, a value that is typical for a 9 m n -QWIP. This shows that above 9 V the longwavelength stack mostly determines the dark current in this structure. The subsequent tests are performed at 80 K in a liquid nitrogen Dewar. The spectral response of the device was tested in two different ways, as represented in Fig. 3. With a Fourier transform spectrometer FTIR the standard way Fig. 3a is to measure the photocurrent probed at a load resistance 1 M placed in series with the device. With a QWIPLED device another possibility is to detect the up-converted signal Fig.

FIG. 4. Spectral response of a n -QWIP/LED/ p -QWIP structure at a temperature of 80 K. The thick solid, long-dashed and short-dashed lines represent the photocurrent spectra respectively at 15, 10, and 5 V. The upconverted spectra at 15 V is the circle-dotted curve. The inset represents the responsivity of the device at 9.2 and 5.1 m as measured with a calibrated blackbody source.

FIG. 3. Schematic of two experimental setups for measurement of spectral response with a FTIR. a standard photocurrent spectra; b the upconversion scheme with a QWIPLED device. Downloaded 04 Jun 2001 to Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright, see http://ojps.aip.org/aplo/aplcr.jsp

3b i.e., the signal of a Si photodiode that measures the LED emission. Both should be equivalent. The spectral response of the device is shown in Fig. 4. Looking at the photocurrent signals at 5 and 15 V, one can see the remarkable wavelength switching capability of this device. At 5 V, the ratio of photoresponse between 4.85 and 9.1 m is 38. When the n -QWIP is turned on 15 V, the ratio between 9.1 and 4.85 m is 30. At 5 V the broad resonance peaked at 4.85 m, typical of a p -QWIP detector /39%. On the other hand, / for the long-wavelength sharp resonance is 14%. That is typical for an n -QWIP at such low doping density. Due to fast scanning speed of the Michelson inferometer of the spectrometer, the slow amplication of the photodiode signal, and the small photoresponse of the p -QWIP, the up-conversion experiment was successful only when the n -QWIP is turned on. The circledotted curve in Fig. 4 showing the up-conversion spectra at 15 V overlays on its equivalent photocurrent spectra solid line in Fig. 4. The responsivity of the device was measured with a calibrated blackbody 1000 K. The result is displayed in the inset of Fig. 4 for two detection wavelengths, 9.2 and 5.1 m. One can see an interplay between the p -QWIP and n -QWIP response: A decrease of responsivity for one wavelength seems to be correlated with an increase for the other wavelength. According to an equivalent circuit model described in Refs. 7 and 8, it was demonstrated that this interplay is related to the relative weight between the dynamic resistances of the two stacks. Therefore, the short-wavelength response occurs at low voltage. At higher voltage, when the dynamic resistance of the long-wavelength n -QWIP becomes comparable to that of the p -QWIP, the long-wavelength detection will start to dominate over the short wavelength. In this type of QWIPLED device one cannot insert an intermediate contacting layer to measure the dynamic resistance of each stack. However, the same circuit model should be valid for this n -QWIP/LED/ p -QWIP device because of the small resistance of a turned-on LED. Due to the small leakage cur-

Appl. Phys. Lett., Vol. 78, No. 14, 2 April 2001

Dupont et al.


ability with the QWIPLED technology. By the combination of n -type and p -type stacks we have demonstrated that the detection wavelength can be switched between the two infrared atmospheric windows with an excellent selectivity. The up-conversion from 9 m to 825 nm was also demonstrated. Provided progress can be made in the growth of such a thick structure, the QWIPLED technology is capable of achieving sequential multicolor infrared imaging. The authors would like to thank D. Wang for the epitaxial growth of the structure and P. Marshall, P. Chow-Chong, and M. Byloos for the microfabrication of the devices. This work was supported in part by DND.

FIG. 5. Polarization sensitivity of the bicolor detector at 10 V, 80 K.

rent below 8.5 V, the numerical aperture of 4 in our experimental setup, and the limited detectivity of Si photodiode, we could measure the LED emission only above 8.5 V, 10 nA. Above this bias the external efciency is constant at 1.8%. This value is typical for planar LED with an unity internal efciency and a semiconductor/air interface. Therefore, one cannot be certain that between 1.5 and 8.5 V the LED is well turned on, but above 8.5 V the equivalent circuit model of two photocurrent sources with their dynamic resistance is valid. Finally, we checked the polarization sensitivity of the device when both QWIP response coexist. The result is plotted in Fig. 5. The 9 m peak is sensitive to the polarization of the radiation, as expected from conduction intersubband transitions in n -QWIP. The 5 m peak is almost unchanged by the rotation of polarization, proving that it originates from valence intersubband transitions in the p -QWIP stack. We have investigated the possibility of wavelength tun-

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