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Superlattice and Negative Differential Conductivity in Semiconductors

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2 Author(s)
Esaki, L. ; IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, New York 10598, USA ; Tsu, R.

We consider a one-dimensional periodic potential, or “superlattice,” in monocrystalline semiconductors formed by a periodic variation of alloy composition or of impurity density introduced during epitaxial growth. If the period of a superlattice, of the order of 100 Å, is shorter than the electron mean free path, a series of narrow allowed and forbidden bands is expected due to the subdivision of the Brillouin zone into a series of minizones. If the scattering time of electrons meets a threshold condition, the combined effect of the narrow energy band and the narrow wave-vector zone makes it possible for electrons to be excited with moderate electric fields to an energy and momentum beyond an inflection point in the E-k relation; this results in a negative differential conductance in the direction of the superlattice. The study of superlattices and observations of quantum mechanical effects on a new physical scale may provide a valuable area of investigation in the field of semiconductors.

Note: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Incorporated is distributing this Article with permission of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who is the exclusive owner. The recipient of this Article may not assign, sublicense, lease, rent or otherwise transfer, reproduce, prepare derivative works, publicly display or perform, or distribute the Article.  

Published in:

IBM Journal of Research and Development  (Volume:14 ,  Issue: 1 )