Research ArticleAPPLIED PHYSICS

Optothermotronic effect as an ultrasensitive thermal sensing technology for solid-state electronics

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Science Advances  27 May 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 22, eaay2671
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay2671

Abstract

The thermal excitation, regulation, and detection of charge carriers in solid-state electronics have attracted great attention toward high-performance sensing applications but still face major challenges. Manipulating thermal excitation and transport of charge carriers in nanoheterostructures, we report a giant temperature sensing effect in semiconductor nanofilms via optoelectronic coupling, termed optothermotronics. A gradient of charge carriers in the nanofilms under nonuniform light illumination is coupled with an electric tuning current to enhance the performance of the thermal sensing effect. As a proof of concept, we used silicon carbide (SiC) nanofilms that form nanoheterostructures on silicon (Si). The sensing performance based on the thermal excitation of charge carriers in SiC is enhanced by at least 100 times through photon excitation, with a giant temperature coefficient of resistance (TCR) of up to −50%/K. Our findings could be used to substantially enhance the thermal sensing performance of solid-state electronics beyond the present sensing technologies.

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