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Bias-free lateral terahertz emitters - a simulation study

: Granzner, R.; Polyakov, V.M.; Cimalla, V.; Ambacher, O.; Schwierz, F.


Journal of applied physics 118 (2015), Nr.4, Art. 043102, 8 S.
ISSN: 0021-8979
ISSN: 1089-7550
Fraunhofer IAF ()
carrier mobility; efficiency; electric fields; fermi level; intelligent systems; Monte Carlo methods; multiplexing; terahertz waves

The design and performance of bias-free InN-based THz emitters that exploit lateral photocurrents is studied by means of numerical simulations. We use a drift-diffusion model with adjusted carrier temperatures and mobilities. The applicability of this approach is demonstrated by a comparison with results from Monte-Carlo simulations. We consider a simple but robust lateral emitter concept using metal stripes with two different thicknesses with one of them being thin enough to be transparent for THz radiation. This arrangement can be easily multiplexed and the efficiency of this concept has already been demonstrated by experiment for GaAs substrates. In the present study, we consider InN, which is known to be an efficient photo-Dember emitter because of its superior transport properties. Our main focus is on the impact of the emitter design on the emission efficiency assuming different operation principles. Both the lateral photo-Dember (LPD) effect and built-in lateral field effects are considered. The appropriate choice of the metal stripe and window geometry as well as the impact of surface Fermi level pinning are investigated in detail, and design guidelines for efficient large area emitters using multiplexed structures are provided. We find that InN LPD emitters do not suffer from Fermi level pinning at the InN surface. The optimum emission efficiency is found for LPD emitter structures having 200 nm wide illumination windows and mask stripes. Emitter structures in which lateral electric fields are induced by the metal mask contacts can have a considerably higher efficiency than pure LPD emitters. In the best case, the THz emission of such structures is increased by one order of magnitude. Their optimum window size is 1 µm without the necessity of a partially transparent set of mask stripes.