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The p-n heterojunction quantum well APD: A new high-gain low-noise high speed photodetector suitable for lightwave communications and digital applications

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1 Author(s)
Brennan, Kevin ; Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

A new Ga0.47In0.53As/Al0.48In0.52As multiquantum well avalanche photodiode, the APD, is presented that provides comparable signal-to-noise performance compared to either the doped quantum well APD or the p-n junction quantum well APD, but without carrier trapping effects even at very low overall applied electric fields. The device is made of repeated unit cells consisting of a p-n junction formed between two dissimilar materials followed by a nearly intrinsic wide-bandgap layer. As in the doped quantum well device, the asymmetric unit cell selectively heats the electron distribution much more than the hole distribution within the narrow-gap Ga0.47In0.53As layer leading to a greatly enhanced electron-to-hole ionization rates ratio. The most significant improvement over the doped and p-n junction quantum well devices is the lack of carrier trapping at the heterojunction without further engineering of the interface (compositional grading). Carrier trapping is avoided, thereby providing very high-speed performance even for low-voltage devices, by doping the narrow-gap layer. The resulting built-in field within the GaInAs layer is sufficiently large of itself that both electrons and holes are heated to energies large enough to overcome the potential barrier at the end of the quantum well. In this way, devices operating at 5 V bias can be built that will provide a gain of about 4 at large bandwidths, ~18 GHz.

Published in:

Electron Devices, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:34 ,  Issue: 4 )