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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: C. Martijn de Sterke
  • Vol. 19, Iss. 18 — Aug. 29, 2011
  • pp: 17293–17297
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Harvesting light at the nanoscale by GaAs-gold nanowire arrays

Stéphane Collin, Fabrice Pardo, Nathalie Bardou, Aristide Lemaître, Stanislav Averin, and Jean-Luc Pelouard  »View Author Affiliations


Optics Express, Vol. 19, Issue 18, pp. 17293-17297 (2011)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OE.19.017293


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Abstract

A nanoscale metal-semiconductor-metal photodetector with a 40 nm-thick GaAs absorbing layer has been studied numerically and experimentally. A gold nanowire array is the top mirror of a Fabry-Perot cavity and forms interdigitated Schottky contacts. Nearly perfect absorption is achieved in TE polarization. It is shown numerically that the gold nanowire array induces light absorption in GaAs nanowires with tiny sections (100 nm × 40 nm). High external quantum efficiency (η > 40 %) is demonstrated.

© 2011 OSA

1. Introduction

Decreasing the volume of light-matter interaction is the main issue in most photodetection and photovoltaic developments. The use of nanoscale absorbing region is a key for many applications as low-noise mid-infrared detectors [1

1. A. Rogalski, J. Antoszewski, and L. Faraone, “Third-generation infrared photodetector arrays,” J. Appl. Phys. 105, 091101 (2009). [CrossRef]

, 2

2. J. Le Perchec, Y. Desieres, and R. Espiau de Lamaestre, “Plasmon-based photosensors comprising a very thin semiconducting region,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 181104 (2009).

], high-speed telecommunication photodetectors [3

3. S. Assefa, F. Xia, and Y. A. Vlasov, “Reinventing germanium avalanche photodetector for nanophotonic on-chip optical interconnects,” Nature 464, 80–84 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

], or next-generation solar cells [4

4. M. A. Green, “Third generation photovoltaics: solar cells for 2020 and beyond,” Physica E 14, 65–70 (2002). [CrossRef]

, 5

5. H. A. Atwater and A. Polman, “Plasmonics for improved photovoltaic devices,” Nat. Mater. 9, 205–213 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Nanowire-based devices are intensively studied, due to their unique properties for carrier and photon confinement [6

6. R. Agarwal and C. Lieber, “Semiconductor nanowires: optics and optoelectronics,” Appl. Phys. A 85, 209–215 (2006). [CrossRef]

8

8. R. Yan, D. Gargas, and P. Yang, “Nanowire photonics,” Nat. Photonics 3, 569–576 (2009). [CrossRef]

]. However, fabrication difficulties and the extremely small photon absorption cross-section still limit the efficiency of nanowire photodetectors. Absorption cross-sections can be strongly increased with surface-plasmon resonances induced by metallic nanostructures [9

9. S. Collin, F. Pardo, R. Teissier, and J.-L. Pelouard, “Efficient light absorption in metal-semiconductor-metal nanostructures,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 85, 194–196 (2004). [CrossRef]

, 10

10. E. Laux, C. Genet, T. Skauli, and T. W. Ebbesen, “Plasmonic photon sorters for spectral and polarimetric imaging,” Nat. Photonics 2, 161–164 (2008). [CrossRef]

]. Their ability to concentrate light into deep-subwavelength volumes has been demonstrated in many configurations [11

11. C. Genet and T. W. Ebbesen, “Light in tiny holes,” Nature 445, 39–46 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

, 12

12. J. A. Schuller, A. S. Barnard, W. Cai, Y. C. Jun, J. S. White, and M. L. Brongersma, “Plasmonics for extreme light concentration and manipulation,” Nat. Mater. 9, 193–204 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

]. Plasmonics provide new rules for the conception of photodetectors and solar cells [5

5. H. A. Atwater and A. Polman, “Plasmonics for improved photovoltaic devices,” Nat. Mater. 9, 205–213 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

,9

9. S. Collin, F. Pardo, R. Teissier, and J.-L. Pelouard, “Efficient light absorption in metal-semiconductor-metal nanostructures,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 85, 194–196 (2004). [CrossRef]

,13

13. T. Ishi, T. Fujikata, K. Makita, T. Baba, and K. Ohashi, “Si nano-photodiode with a surface plasmon antenna,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 44, L364–L366 (2005). [CrossRef]

,14

14. L. Tang, S. E. Kocabas, S. Latif, A. K. Okyay, D. Ly-Gagnon, K. C. Saraswat, and D. A. Miller, “Nanometre-scale germanium photodetector enhanced by a near-infrared dipole antenna,” Nat. Photonics 2, 226–229 (2008). [CrossRef]

], but these devices have to face up to metal absorption and the role of defects at the metal-semiconductor interfaces.

In this letter, we demonstrate high external quantum efficiencies (above 40 %) in nanoscopic metal-GaAs wire arrays. This is achieved in the nanoscale metal-semiconductor-metal (nano-MSM) photodetector [15

15. S. Collin, F. Pardo, and J.-L. Pelouard, “Resonant-cavity-enhanced subwavelength metal-semiconductor-metal photodetector,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 83, 1521–1523 (2003). [CrossRef]

] depicted in Fig. 1(b). It is shown that a metal nanowire array allows efficient light confinement in GaAs wires of tiny section (100 nm × 40 nm) near the electrodes, leading to highly efficient light trapping and photocarrier collection.

Fig. 1 (a) SEM photograph of a 5 × 5 μm2 nano-MSM photodetector. (b) Schematic drawing of the nano-MSM photodetector, and cross-section of the calculated spatial distribution of the electric field intensity in the GaAs absorbing layer in TE polarization (λ = 790 nm). White regions show high absorption. (c) Schematic drawing of the active part of the photodetector showing the GaAs nanowire array where most of the absorption occurs, and carrier collection mechanism.

2. Nearly-perfect resonant optical absorption in 40 nm-thick GaAs layer

Fig. 2 (a) Experimental and numerical reflection spectra in TE polarization (black curves), and numerical results of absorption (red curve) in the 40 nm-thick GaAs layer, at normal incidence. (b) Angular dependence of the absorption efficiency in the GaAs layer at resonance wavelength λ = 790 nm (numerical results).

Reflection measurements are shown in Fig. 2(a) for normal incidence (solid curve, NA=0.3). Experimental results exhibit a strong resonance in the center of the stop-band of the Bragg mirror. The reflection dip and resonance width are in excellent agreement with theoretical predictions (dashed curves), and demonstrate nearly perfect absorption, with reflectivity as low as 5 % at 790 nm wavelength. The theoretical absorption in the GaAs layer is also plotted in Fig. 2(a) (red dashed curve). At 790 nm wavelength, 50 % absorption efficiency is predicted in the 40 nm-thick GaAs layer. The other 50 % of the incident power are divided as follows: reflection (2.5 %), transmission through the Bragg reflector (2.5 %), absorption in the gold grating (16 %) and absorption in the titanium adhesion layer (29 %). Low angular dependence is demonstrated in the ±15° angle range (numerical calculations, see Fig. 2(b)), allowing strong optical focusing on 5 × 5 μm2 nano-MSM photodetectors (sample A) without significant effect on the device efficiency.

The electric field intensity (||E||2) along a device cross-section is represented in Fig. 1(b) for λ = 790 nm (resonance wavelength). The local absorption is proportional to the electric field intensity. The optical interaction with the metallic grating induces a specific shape for the absorption into the GaAs layer. The absorption enhancement (up to 4-fold below the GaAs-air interface) is localized in an array of GaAs nanowires, spatially shifted by half a period compared to the metal nanowire array. This is illustrated schematically in Fig. 1(c). As expected in TE polarization, no plasmonic effect is involved in the optical resonance, as confirmed in Fig. 1(b). This configuration is well adapted to achieve a very efficient collection of photogenerated electrons and holes: the mean collection path is strongly reduced (50–100 nm) compared to standard photodetectors, and the absorbing region is separated from the GaAs-Ti/Au interfaces. Hence, we expect a low level of electron-hole recombinations induced by surface defects at the GaAs-metal interface. In addition, it has to be noted that transport and carrier collection occur on the sides of the nanowires, unlike most semiconductor nanowire photodetectors where the carriers have first to reach the wire extremity to be collected [6

6. R. Agarwal and C. Lieber, “Semiconductor nanowires: optics and optoelectronics,” Appl. Phys. A 85, 209–215 (2006). [CrossRef]

].

3. Evidence of 40 % external quantum efficiency

Electro-optical measurements are shown in Fig. 3 (λ = 790 nm, normal incidence). Very low dark current (500 pA) and high bias voltage without breakdown (up to 2 V) are obtained with nanoscale (100 nm) finger spacing and finger width. Low level of dark current density (< 5 pA/μm2) allows to realize high sensitive detectors of optical radiation on these structures. The Schottky barrier height is evaluated to 0.55 eV and its ideality factor is n=1.05. These results demonstrate the high quality of the metal-GaAs interfaces. The photocurrent-voltage characteristics do not show saturation up to 2 V. At low voltage, the photocurrent can be limited by surface recombinations [18

18. S. Y. Chou, M. Y. Liu, and P. B. Fischer, “Tera-hertz GaAs metal-semiconductor-metal photodetectors with 25 nm finger spacing and finger width,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 61, 477–479 (1992). [CrossRef]

]. At higher voltage, the very high electric field close to the metal wires can induce gain effects due to barrier lowering and internal emission of photoexcited electrons into the metal, close to the GaAs interface [19

19. E. W. McFarland and J. Tang, “A photovoltaic device structure based on internal electron emission,” Nature 421, 616–618 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

].

Fig. 3 IV characteristics of nano-MSM photodetector (sample B) in dark (black dots) and illuminated (color dots) conditions, for different light powers and for λ = 790 nm wavelength.

Figure 4 shows the external quantum efficiency η as a function of wavelength and incident light power. This efficiency can be expressed as the product of the absorption efficiency in the GaAs layer A(λ) and the internal quantum efficiency ηi (η = ηi × A(λ)). The contributions of carrier recombinations and gain effects mentioned above depend on the bias voltage and incident light power, and can lead to internal quantum efficiencies ηi smaller or greater than 1. Therefore, the exact absorption efficiency cannot be deduced from experimental data. However, external quantum efficiency measurements confirm the resonant behavior of the nano-MSM photodetectors, and the high absorption efficiency predicted in the 40 nm-thick GaAs layer. For low incident power, external quantum efficiencies above 40 % are obtained at 790 nm wavelength, close to the maximum theoretical absorption efficiency.

Fig. 4 External quantum efficiency η (color dots: measurements, lines: Lorentzian fit) as a function of the wavelength and incident light power on sample A (Bias voltage: 2 V). The theoretical absorption Ath(λ) calculated in the GaAs layer is also shown (black curve). Inset: External quantum efficiency as a function of the incident light power (measurements under 2 V bias voltage).

4. Conclusion

In conclusion, nearly perfect absorption (95 %) is demonstrated in a nanoscale MSM device. Light trapping in a 40 nm-thick GaAs layer is achieved with a Fabry-Perot-type resonator between a gold nanowire array and a multilayered Bragg reflector. External quantum efficiency reaches 40 %. This is an efficiency improvement by orders of magnitude in comparison with conventional MSM photodetector with a similar geometry of 100 nm finger spacing [18

18. S. Y. Chou, M. Y. Liu, and P. B. Fischer, “Tera-hertz GaAs metal-semiconductor-metal photodetectors with 25 nm finger spacing and finger width,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 61, 477–479 (1992). [CrossRef]

]. Light trapping leads to a twenty-fold decrease of the absorption layer thickness compared to bulk GaAs. The efficient collection of photocarriers is achieved through a high and homogeneous electric field with mean collection path of the carriers below 100 nm. The diode capacitance of 5 × 5 μm2 nano-MSM devices is 8 fF. As a result, the transit time and RC time are below 1ps, leading to potential cutoff frequencies above 300–400 GHz. This nano-MSM structure allows to overcome the usual trade-off between speed and efficiency in MSM photodetectors [15

15. S. Collin, F. Pardo, and J.-L. Pelouard, “Resonant-cavity-enhanced subwavelength metal-semiconductor-metal photodetector,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 83, 1521–1523 (2003). [CrossRef]

].

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Christophe Dupuis for assistance in the fabrication process. This work is partially supported by ANR projects THRI-PV and ULTRACIS.

References and links

1.

A. Rogalski, J. Antoszewski, and L. Faraone, “Third-generation infrared photodetector arrays,” J. Appl. Phys. 105, 091101 (2009). [CrossRef]

2.

J. Le Perchec, Y. Desieres, and R. Espiau de Lamaestre, “Plasmon-based photosensors comprising a very thin semiconducting region,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 181104 (2009).

3.

S. Assefa, F. Xia, and Y. A. Vlasov, “Reinventing germanium avalanche photodetector for nanophotonic on-chip optical interconnects,” Nature 464, 80–84 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

4.

M. A. Green, “Third generation photovoltaics: solar cells for 2020 and beyond,” Physica E 14, 65–70 (2002). [CrossRef]

5.

H. A. Atwater and A. Polman, “Plasmonics for improved photovoltaic devices,” Nat. Mater. 9, 205–213 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

6.

R. Agarwal and C. Lieber, “Semiconductor nanowires: optics and optoelectronics,” Appl. Phys. A 85, 209–215 (2006). [CrossRef]

7.

B. Tian, X. Zheng, T. J. Kempa, Y. Fang, N. Yu, G. Yu, J. Huang, and C. M. Lieber, “Coaxial silicon nanowires as solar cells and nanoelectronic power sources,” Nature 449, 885–889 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

8.

R. Yan, D. Gargas, and P. Yang, “Nanowire photonics,” Nat. Photonics 3, 569–576 (2009). [CrossRef]

9.

S. Collin, F. Pardo, R. Teissier, and J.-L. Pelouard, “Efficient light absorption in metal-semiconductor-metal nanostructures,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 85, 194–196 (2004). [CrossRef]

10.

E. Laux, C. Genet, T. Skauli, and T. W. Ebbesen, “Plasmonic photon sorters for spectral and polarimetric imaging,” Nat. Photonics 2, 161–164 (2008). [CrossRef]

11.

C. Genet and T. W. Ebbesen, “Light in tiny holes,” Nature 445, 39–46 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

12.

J. A. Schuller, A. S. Barnard, W. Cai, Y. C. Jun, J. S. White, and M. L. Brongersma, “Plasmonics for extreme light concentration and manipulation,” Nat. Mater. 9, 193–204 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

13.

T. Ishi, T. Fujikata, K. Makita, T. Baba, and K. Ohashi, “Si nano-photodiode with a surface plasmon antenna,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 44, L364–L366 (2005). [CrossRef]

14.

L. Tang, S. E. Kocabas, S. Latif, A. K. Okyay, D. Ly-Gagnon, K. C. Saraswat, and D. A. Miller, “Nanometre-scale germanium photodetector enhanced by a near-infrared dipole antenna,” Nat. Photonics 2, 226–229 (2008). [CrossRef]

15.

S. Collin, F. Pardo, and J.-L. Pelouard, “Resonant-cavity-enhanced subwavelength metal-semiconductor-metal photodetector,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 83, 1521–1523 (2003). [CrossRef]

16.

S. Collin, F. Pardo, R. Teissier, N. Bardou, C. Dupuis, R. Mahe, L. Ferlazzo, E. Cambril, V. Thierry-Mieg, A. Lemaître, and J. L. Pelouard, “Light confinement and absorption in metal-semiconductor-metal nanostructures,” Proc. SPIE 5734, 1–12 (2005). [CrossRef]

17.

E. D. Palik, ed., Handbook of Optical Constants of Solids (Academic, 1985).

18.

S. Y. Chou, M. Y. Liu, and P. B. Fischer, “Tera-hertz GaAs metal-semiconductor-metal photodetectors with 25 nm finger spacing and finger width,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 61, 477–479 (1992). [CrossRef]

19.

E. W. McFarland and J. Tang, “A photovoltaic device structure based on internal electron emission,” Nature 421, 616–618 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

OCIS Codes
(230.7370) Optical devices : Waveguides
(240.6680) Optics at surfaces : Surface plasmons
(260.2110) Physical optics : Electromagnetic optics
(260.3910) Physical optics : Metal optics

ToC Category:
Solar Energy

History
Original Manuscript: May 27, 2011
Revised Manuscript: July 11, 2011
Manuscript Accepted: July 13, 2011
Published: August 18, 2011

Virtual Issues
Vol. 6, Iss. 9 Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics

Citation
Stéphane Collin, Fabrice Pardo, Nathalie Bardou, Aristide Lemaître, Stanislav Averin, and Jean-Luc Pelouard, "Harvesting light at the nanoscale by GaAs-gold nanowire arrays," Opt. Express 19, 17293-17297 (2011)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/abstract.cfm?URI=oe-19-18-17293


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References

  1. A. Rogalski, J. Antoszewski, and L. Faraone, “Third-generation infrared photodetector arrays,” J. Appl. Phys. 105, 091101 (2009). [CrossRef]
  2. J. Le Perchec, Y. Desieres, and R. Espiau de Lamaestre, “Plasmon-based photosensors comprising a very thin semiconducting region,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 181104 (2009).
  3. S. Assefa, F. Xia, and Y. A. Vlasov, “Reinventing germanium avalanche photodetector for nanophotonic on-chip optical interconnects,” Nature 464, 80–84 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  4. M. A. Green, “Third generation photovoltaics: solar cells for 2020 and beyond,” Physica E 14, 65–70 (2002). [CrossRef]
  5. H. A. Atwater and A. Polman, “Plasmonics for improved photovoltaic devices,” Nat. Mater. 9, 205–213 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. R. Agarwal and C. Lieber, “Semiconductor nanowires: optics and optoelectronics,” Appl. Phys. A 85, 209–215 (2006). [CrossRef]
  7. B. Tian, X. Zheng, T. J. Kempa, Y. Fang, N. Yu, G. Yu, J. Huang, and C. M. Lieber, “Coaxial silicon nanowires as solar cells and nanoelectronic power sources,” Nature 449, 885–889 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  8. R. Yan, D. Gargas, and P. Yang, “Nanowire photonics,” Nat. Photonics 3, 569–576 (2009). [CrossRef]
  9. S. Collin, F. Pardo, R. Teissier, and J.-L. Pelouard, “Efficient light absorption in metal-semiconductor-metal nanostructures,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 85, 194–196 (2004). [CrossRef]
  10. E. Laux, C. Genet, T. Skauli, and T. W. Ebbesen, “Plasmonic photon sorters for spectral and polarimetric imaging,” Nat. Photonics 2, 161–164 (2008). [CrossRef]
  11. C. Genet and T. W. Ebbesen, “Light in tiny holes,” Nature 445, 39–46 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  12. J. A. Schuller, A. S. Barnard, W. Cai, Y. C. Jun, J. S. White, and M. L. Brongersma, “Plasmonics for extreme light concentration and manipulation,” Nat. Mater. 9, 193–204 (2010). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. T. Ishi, T. Fujikata, K. Makita, T. Baba, and K. Ohashi, “Si nano-photodiode with a surface plasmon antenna,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 44, L364–L366 (2005). [CrossRef]
  14. L. Tang, S. E. Kocabas, S. Latif, A. K. Okyay, D. Ly-Gagnon, K. C. Saraswat, and D. A. Miller, “Nanometre-scale germanium photodetector enhanced by a near-infrared dipole antenna,” Nat. Photonics 2, 226–229 (2008). [CrossRef]
  15. S. Collin, F. Pardo, and J.-L. Pelouard, “Resonant-cavity-enhanced subwavelength metal-semiconductor-metal photodetector,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 83, 1521–1523 (2003). [CrossRef]
  16. S. Collin, F. Pardo, R. Teissier, N. Bardou, C. Dupuis, R. Mahe, L. Ferlazzo, E. Cambril, V. Thierry-Mieg, A. Lemaître, and J. L. Pelouard, “Light confinement and absorption in metal-semiconductor-metal nanostructures,” Proc. SPIE 5734, 1–12 (2005). [CrossRef]
  17. E. D. Palik, ed., Handbook of Optical Constants of Solids (Academic, 1985).
  18. S. Y. Chou, M. Y. Liu, and P. B. Fischer, “Tera-hertz GaAs metal-semiconductor-metal photodetectors with 25 nm finger spacing and finger width,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 61, 477–479 (1992). [CrossRef]
  19. E. W. McFarland and J. Tang, “A photovoltaic device structure based on internal electron emission,” Nature 421, 616–618 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

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