Research ArticleAPPLIED OPTICS

Single-crystalline germanium nanomembrane photodetectors on foreign nanocavities

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Science Advances  07 Jul 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 7, e1602783
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602783

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Miniaturization of optoelectronic devices offers tremendous performance gain. As the volume of photoactive material decreases, optoelectronic performance improves, including the operation speed, the signal-to-noise ratio, and the internal quantum efficiency. Over the past decades, researchers have managed to reduce the volume of photoactive materials in solar cells and photodetectors by orders of magnitude. However, two issues arise when one continues to thin down the photoactive layers to the nanometer scale (for example, <50 nm). First, light-matter interaction becomes weak, resulting in incomplete photon absorption and low quantum efficiency. Second, it is difficult to obtain ultrathin materials with single-crystalline quality. We introduce a method to overcome these two challenges simultaneously. It uses conventional bulk semiconductor wafers, such as Si, Ge, and GaAs, to realize single-crystalline films on foreign substrates that are designed for enhanced light-matter interaction. We use a high-yield and high-throughput method to demonstrate nanometer-thin photodetectors with significantly enhanced light absorption based on nanocavity interference mechanism. These single-crystalline nanomembrane photodetectors also exhibit unique optoelectronic properties, such as the strong field effect and spectral selectivity.

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