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The internal photoemission current of Au–GaAs Schottky barriers with interfaces like a diffraction grating have been investigated. The surface plasmon-polariton excitation is shown to be an additional mechanism that contributes to an increase in the internal photoemission current. The sharp edges at such interfaces lead to an enhancement of the electric field, which can reach more than ten times that of a flat sample. © 2000 American Vacuum Society.