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A 4H-SiC UV Phototransistor with Excellent Optical Gain Based on Controlled Potential Barrier

: Benedetto, L. di; Licciardo, G.D.; Erlbacher, T.; Bauer, A.J.; Rubino, A.


IEEE transactions on electron devices 67 (2020), Nr.1, S.154-159
ISSN: 0018-9383
ISSN: 1557-9646
Fraunhofer IISB ()

In this article, we report the experimental results of a visible-light-blind 4H-polytype silicon carbide phototransistor able to detect ultraviolet (UV) radiations for wavelengths lower than 380 nm with a significative improvement in the optical gain compared with the state-of-the-art of 4H-SiC UV phototransistors. From the electro-optical measurements, the device shows a dark current of 0.62 pA, an ON-/OFF-current ratio of seven orders of magnitude up to bias voltage of −0.5 V, and an excellent optical gain of $1.14\cdot {10}{{{5}}}$ at 300 nm, whereas it is only $2.6\cdot {10}{-{{3}}}$ at 400 nm demonstrating a good rejection of visible radiations. Besides having high optical gain, the phototransistor is also more sensitive than the conventional 4H-SiC UV detectors for wavelength s with low penetration depths, because its structure is designed to have the electric field up to the radiated surface where the photogenerated electronhole pairs are efficiently swept up before recombination occurs. The operating principle of the detector is also investigated, and we experimentally proved that differently from the conventional 4H-SiC bipolar junction transistor phototransistor, it is based on the change in the potential barrier height, which controls the current flow, due to the variation in the Fermi levels when the electronhole pairs are photogenerated. A comparison with the state-of-the-art of 4H-SiC UV phototransistors is reported.