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PN Photodiode

1. Concept of photodiode
 Photodiode is a type of semiconductor diodes that perform the
conversion photon into charges.
2. Structure of PN photodiode
 Photodiode is composed of two types of P and N semiconductor, the
middle being the P-N junction and it is called the depletion region.
 P semiconductor consists the holes and N semicondutor includes the

Figure 1. Structure of PN photodiode.

3. Working
 When the light (photons) shines on depletion region, it will be absorbed
by this region and by the photovoltaic effect will produce electron-hole
 PN photodiode works with reverse bias.
Figure 2. The electron-hole pairs created in the depletion region

 Electric field of the depletion region make the charge carriers to move,
the holes move to the anode and the electrons move to the cathode
that generate the electric current.

Figure 3. The movement of the electron-hole pairs in the depletion region.

 As the intensity of light increases, the electric current generated is also

 When photodiode is kept under dark condition and a sufficient reverse
voltage is applied, then an almost constant current, independent of
magnitude of reverse bias is obtained. This current corresponds to the
reverse saturation current due to thermally generated minority carriers.
It is called dark current.
 It is proportional to the concentrations of minority carriers and is
denoted by 𝐼𝑑 .
 Thus under large reverse bias conditions the total reverse current is given
by 𝐼 = 𝐼𝑑 + 𝐼𝑠 .
 Where 𝐼𝑠 is the short circuit current and is proportional to light intensity.
 𝐼𝑑 = 𝐼0 (1 − 𝑒 𝑘𝑇 )
𝐼0 : reverse bias saturation current.
𝑉: voltage across the photodiode.
𝑞: electron charge (−1,602 × 10−19 𝐶 ).
𝑘: Boltzmann constant (1,38 × 10−23 J⁄K)
𝑇: absolute temperature (273° 𝐾 = 0° 𝐶 )
 Hence the total reverse current of photodiode in reverse bias is given
𝐼 = 𝐼𝑠 + 𝐼0 (1 − 𝑒 𝑘𝑇 )
Operation mode:
 A silicon photodiode can be operated in either the photovoltaic or
photoconductive mode.
 In the photovoltaic mode, the photodiode is unbiased; while for the
photoconductive mode, an external reverse bias is applied.
 Mode selection depends upon the speed requirements of the
application, and the amount of dark current that is tolerable. In the
photovoltaic mode, dark current is at a minimum. Photodiodes exhibit
their fastest switching speeds when operated in the photoconductive

4. Applications
 P-N photodiodes are used in charge-coupled devices, which is a sensor
that converts optical images into electrical signals in the image
 In addition, it is also used in photomultiplier tubes, which is a sensor
that converts photons into electricity and multiply by hundreds of
millions of times and is applied to detect the radiation in radiation
analysis devices.