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New nano-material combinations produce leap in infrared technology
Date:2/14/2012

search and a new Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program established by the U.S. Army Research Office. ASU is a partner in the program led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The MURI program is enabling Zhang's group to accelerate its work by teaming with David Smith, a professor in the Department of Physics in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Shane Johnson, a senior research scientist in the ASU's engineering schools.

The team is using a combination of indium arsenide and indium arsenide antimonide to build the superlattice structures. The combination allows devices to generate photo electrons necessary to provide infrared signal detection and imaging, says Elizabeth Steenbergen, an electrical engineering doctoral student who performed experiments on the supperlattice materials with collaborators at the Army Research Lab.

"In a photodetector, light creates electrons. Electrons emerge from the photodetector as electrical current. We read the magnitude of this current to measure infrared light intensity," she says.

"In this chain, we want all of the electrons to be collected from the detector as efficiently as possible. But sometimes these electrons get lost inside the device and are never collected," says team member Orkun Cellek, an electrical engineering postdoctoral research associate.

Zhang says the team's use of the new materials is reducing this loss of optically excited electrons, which increases the electrons' carrier lifetime by more than 10 times what has been achieved by other combinations of materials traditionally used in the technology. Carrier lifetime is a key parameter that has limited detector efficiency in the past.

Another advantage is that infrared photodetectors made from these superlattice materials don't need as much cooling. Such devices are cooled as a way of reducing the amount of unwanted current inside the devices that can "bu
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Contact: Joe Kullman
joe.kullman@asu.edu
480-965-8122
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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