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Detectors with Improved Near-to-Mid IR Performance and Reduced Cooling Requirements, Phase II

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

This program will develop an ultra-high performance infrared detector manufacturing technology with improved performance and cost effectiveness, and reduced cooling requirements when compared to the best commercially available HgCdTe and InGaAs detectors. This will be accomplished using a two-pronged approach addressing both device design and materials. First, the conventional pn photodiode device is replaced with a new device structure, the nBn detector, which inherently suppresses performance-limiting dark currents, such as those produced by surface leakage. Second, highly manufacturable III-V materials are used, which are further enhanced with Amethyst's proprietary UV hydrogenation defect mitigation process. The result is a low cost, high performance detectors operating in the 2 – 5 micron wavelength region. There is a pressing need for ultra-high sensitivity detectors operating in this region for the detection of trace gases and chemicals. In Phase I Amethyst produced a 2.8 micron cutoff detector. The program met all objectives, demonstrating considerable improvements in performance over conventional pn diodes using the nBn and hydrogenation approach. In Phase II, Amethyst will design, fabricate and test high performance detectors individually optimized with cutoff wavelengths throughout 2–5 micron wavelength range. These detectors will have improved detectivity, and significantly reduced cooling requirements compared to currently available commercial detectors. In addition, Amethyst will deliver a thermoelectrically cooled 3.3 micron wavelength cutoff detector to JPL's Microdevices Laboratory for comparative testing and to assist in development of methane detector systems. The overall objective of the Phase II is to establish performance metrics, manufacturing process, characterize and life test single element devices. These efforts will help establish a US based manufacturing source of these ultra-high performance detectors. More »

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