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Avalanche Photodiode (APD)

Attributes: high speed and internal gain


Good for communications
A thin n side layer is exposed through a window to achieve
illumination.
3 p type layers follow this and terminate at the electrode.
These p-type layers have different doping levels in order to modify the
field distribution across the diode.
1st p-type region is a thin layer
2nd p-type region is a thick, lightly dope
layer. (almost intrinsic)

3rd p-type region is heavily doped p layer.

APD
The diode operates in the reverse bias mode in order to
increase the field in the depletion regions.
Applying an adequate R.B. will force the depletion region
in the p-layer to reach-through to layer.

The field ultimately extends from n -side depletion layer

p
to the - side depletion layer.
Absorption of photons and therefore photogeneration takes
place in the long layer.
It is a uniform field in the layer due to the small net
space charge density.

APD
The E-field is at a maximum at the n - side and a
p at the p - side.
minimum
Drifting electrons arriving at the p-layer experience
elevated fields and acquire enough kinetic energy (greater
than Eg) to impact-ionize some of the Si covalent bonds
and release EHPs.
These EHPs can be accelerated by high fields to high
kinetic energies to cause further impact ionization
releasing even more EHPs leading to an avalanche of
impact-ionization process.

APD
In summary a single elctron entering the p-layer can
generate a large number of EHPs which contribute to an
observed photocurrent.
APDs have an internal gain mechanism.
This avalanche multiplication corresponds to a quantum
efficiency greater than unity.
Why is photogeneration restricted to the region ?
Electrons as a carrier in Si have a higher impact ionization
efficiency than holes (less excess noise in avalanche
multiplied photocurrent).

APD
Factors determining speed:
1. Time it takes for photogenerated electron to cross the
absorption region ( layer) to the multiplication layer
(p layer).
2. Time it takes for the avalanche process to build-up in the
p-region and generate EHPs.
3. Time it takes for the last hole released in the avalanche
process to vacate the region.

Avalanche Multiplication Factor

I ph
Multiplied Photocurrent
M

primarymultipliedphotocurrent I pho

1
Vr
1
Vbr

where : Vbr is avalanche breakdown voltage


n is a characteristic index dependant on temperature.

APD
Response time of APD is longer than PIN diode however it
offers gain.
APD does not require additional amplification which
introduces delay to PIN diode.
Drawback of APD: The peripheral edge of the n p

n
junction reaches avalanche breakdown before the
p
window of illumination area.
Uniform avalanche multiplication is required to promote
avalanching of primary photocurrent versus dark current
(generates random EHPs). Remedy: guard ring.

Electrode

Ip h

SiO2
E

h>Eg

e
n+ p

h+

n et

(a)

p+

Electrode

(b)
x

E (x)
(c)

Absorption
region

Avalanche
region

(a)Aschematicillustrationofthestructureofanavalanchephotodiode(APD)biased
foravalanchegain.(b)Thenetspacechargedensityacrossthephotodiode.(c)The
fieldacrossthediodeandtheidentificationofabsorptionandmultiplicationregions.
1999S.O.Kasap,Optoelectronics (PrenticeHall)

h+

Ec
Ev

h+

n+

Avalancheregion

(a)

(b)

(a)ApictorialviewofimpactionizationprocessesreleasingEHPsand
theresultingavalanchemultiplication.(b)Impactofanenergetic
conductionelectronwithcrystalvibrationstransferstheelectron's
kineticenergytoavalenceelectronandtherebyexcitesittothe
conductionband.
1999S.O.Kasap,Optoelectronics (PrenticeHall)

Electrode

SiO 2

Antireflectioncoating
n+
p

(a)

Guardring

Avalanchebreakdown

n+
p

(b)
p+

p+

Substrate

Substrate
Electrode

Electrode

(a)ASiAPDstructurewithoutaguardring.(b)Aschematicillustrationofthe
structureofamorepracticalSiAPD
1999S.O.Kasap,Optoelectronics (PrenticeHall)

Vr
Ip h
Electrode

InP

InP

EE

InGaAs

Vout

e
h+

P+
E (x)

Avalanche
region

n+
Absorption
region
x

Simplifiedschematicdiagramofaseparateabsorptionandmultiplication
(SAM)APDusingaheterostructurebasedonInGaAsInP. PandNreferto
pandntypewiderbandgapsemiconductor.
1999S.O.Kasap,Optoelectronics (PrenticeHall)

Ec

(a)

InP

Ev

e
Ec

E v

InGaAs

h+

(a)Energybanddiagramfora
SAMheterojunctionAPDwhere
thereisavalencebandstepEv
fromInGaAstoInPthatslows
holeentryintotheInPlayer.

Ev

InP

(b)

Ev

InGaAsPgradinglayer
InGaAs

h+

Ev

(b)Aninterposinggradinglayer
(InGaAsP)withanintermediate
bandgapbreaksEvandmakesit
easierfortheholetopasstotheInP
layer

1999S.O.Kasap,Optoelectronics (PrenticeHall)

Photon
Electrode
nIn0 . 5 3 Ga0 . 4 7 As(510m)Absorptionlayer

Graded nInGaAsP(<1m)

NInP(23m)Multiplicationlayer.
Electrode

P+InP(23m)Bufferepitaxiallayer

P+InPSubstrate

SimplifiedschematicdiagramofamorepracticalmesaetchedSAGMlayered
APD.
1999S.O.Kasap,Optoelectronics (PrenticeHall)

1020nm

h
E c

Eg 2

Ec

h+

p+

Eg 1

Ev

n+

(a)

(b)

EnergybanddiagramofastaircasesuperlatticeAPD(a)Nobias.(b)With
anappliedbias.
1999S.O.Kasap,Optoelectronics (PrenticeHall)