Traps in solids

Traps in solids

Localized regions in a material that can capture and localize an electron or hole, thus preventing the electron or hole from moving through the material until supplied with sufficient thermal or optical energy. Traps in solids are associated with imperfections in the material caused by either impurities or crystal defects. See Band theory of solids, Crystal defects, Hole states in solids

Imperfections that behave as traps are commonly distinguished from imperfections that behave as recombination centers. If the probability for a captured electron (or hole) at the imperfection to be thermally reexcited to the conduction (or valence) band before recombination with a free hole (or free electron) is greater than the probability for such recombination, then the imperfection is said to behave like an electron (or hole) trap. If the probability for a captured electron (or hole) at the imperfection to recombine with a free hole (or free electron) is greater than the probability for being thermally reexcited to the band, the imperfection is said to behave like a recombination center. It is possible for a specific chemical or structural imperfection in the material to behave like a trap under one set of conditions of temperature and light intensity, and as a recombination center under another.

Traps play a significant role in many phenomena involving photoconductivity and luminescence. In photoconductors, for example, the presence of traps decreases the sensitivity and increases the response time. Their effect is detectable through changes in the rise and decay transients of photoconductivity and luminescence, thermally stimulated conductivity and luminescence in which the traps are filled at a low temperature and then emptied by increasing the temperature in a controlled way, electron spin responance associated with trapped electrons with unpaired spins, and a variety of techniques involving the capacitance of a semiconductor junction such as photocapacitance and deep-level transient spectroscopy. See Luminescence, Photoconductivity, Thermoluminescence

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Physics. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.