Semiconductor heterostructures

Semiconductor heterostructures

Structures consisting of two different semiconductor materials in junction contact, with unique electrical or electrooptical characteristics. A heterojunction is a junction in a single crystal between two dissimilar semiconductors. The most important differences between the two semiconductors are generally in the energy gap and the refractive index. In semiconductor heterostructures, differences in energy gap permit spatial confinement of injected electrons and holes, while the differences in refractive index can be used to form optical waveguides. Semiconductor heterostructures have been used for diode lasers, light-emitting diodes, optical detector diodes, and solar cells. In fact, heterostructures must be used to obtain continuous operation of diode lasers at room temperature. Heterostructures also exhibit other interesting properties such as the quantization of confined carrier motion in ultrathin heterostructures and enhanced carrier mobility in modulation-doped heterostructures. Structures of current interest utilize III–V and IV–VI compounds having similar crystal structures and closely matched lattice constants. See Band theory of solids, Laser, Light-emitting diode, Refraction of waves

The most intensively studied and thoroughly documented materials for heterostructures are GaAs and AlxGa1-xAs. Several other III–V and IV–VI systems also are used for semiconductor heterostructures. A close lattice match is necessary in heterostructures in order to obtain high-quality crystal layers by epitaxial growth and thereby to prevent excessive carrier recombination at the heterojunction interface.

When the narrow energy gap layer in heterostructures becomes a few tens of nanometers or less in thickness, new effects that are associated with the quantization of confined carriers are observed. These ultrathin heterostructures are referred to as superlattices or quantum well structures, and they consist of alternating layers of GaAs and AlxGa1-xAs. These structures are generally prepared by molecular-beam epitaxy. Each layer is 5 to 40 nanometers thick.

In the GaAs layers, the motion of the carriers is restricted in the direction perpendicular to the heterojunction interfaces, while they are free to move in the other two directions. The carriers can therefore be considered as a two-dimensional gas. The Schrdinger wave equation shows that the carriers moving in the confining direction can have only discrete bound states. See Quantum mechanics

Another property of semiconductor heterostructures is illustrated by a modulation doping technique that spatially separates conduction electrons in the GaAs layer and their parent donor impurity atoms in the AlxGa1-xAs layer. Since the carrier mobility in semiconductors is decreased by the presence of ionized and neutral impurities, the carrier mobility in the modulation-doped GaAs is larger than for a GaAs layer doped with impurities to give the same free electron concentration. Higher carrier mobilities should permit preparation of devices that operate at higher frequencies than are possible with doped layers. See Semiconductor

Semiconductor heterostructures

Structures consisting of two different semiconductor materials in junction contact, with unique electrical or electrooptical characteristics. A heterojunction is a junction in a single crystal between two dissimilar semiconductors. The most important differences between the two semiconductors are generally in the energy gap and the refractive index. In semiconductor heterostructures, differences in energy gap permit spatial confinement of injected electrons and holes, while the differences in refractive index can be used to form optical waveguides. Semiconductor heterostructures have been used for diode lasers, light-emitting diodes, optical detector diodes, and solar cells. In fact, heterostructures must be used to obtain continuous operation of diode lasers at room temperature. Heterostructures also exhibit other interesting properties such as the quantization of confined carrier motion in ultrathin heterostructures and enhanced carrier mobility in modulation-doped heterostructures. Structures of current interest utilize III–V and IV–VI compounds having similar crystal structures and closely matched lattice constants. See Laser, Light-emitting diode, Optical detectors, Solar cell

The most intensively studied and thoroughly documented materials for heterostructures are GaAs and AlxGa1-xAs. Several other III–V and IV–VI systems also are used for semiconductor heterostructures. A close lattice match is necessary in heterostructures in order to obtain high-quality crystal layers by epitaxial growth and thereby to prevent excessive carrier recombination at the heterojunction interface.

When the narrow energy gap layer in heterostructures becomes a few tens of nanometers or less in thickness, new effects that are associated with the quantization of confined carriers are observed. These ultrathin heterostructures are referred to as superlattices or quantum well structures, and they consist of alternating layers of GaAs and AlxGa1-xAs. These structures are generally prepared by molecular-beam epitaxy. Each layer is 5 to 40 nanometers thick.

In the GaAs layers, the motion of the carriers is restricted in the direction perpendicular to the heterojunction interfaces, while they are free to move in the other two directions. The carriers can therefore be considered as a two-dimensional gas. The Schrdinger wave equation shows that the carriers moving in the confining direction can have only discrete bound states.

Another property of semiconductor heterostructures is illustrated by a modulation doping technique that spatially separates conduction electrons in the GaAs layer and their parent donor impurity atoms in the AlxGa1-xAs layer. Since the carrier mobility in semiconductors is decreased by the presence of ionized and neutral impurities, the carrier mobility in the modulation-doped GaAs is larger than for a GaAs layer doped with impurities to give the same free electron concentration. Higher carrier mobilities should permit preparation of devices that operate at higher frequencies than are possible with doped layers. See Semiconductor

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