Novel materials allow the detector to operate at higher temperatures.
A mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) barrier photodetector is capable of operating at higher temperature than the prevailing MWIR detectors based on InSb. The standard high-operating-temperature barrier infrared detector
(HOT-BIRD) is made with an InAsSb infrared absorber that is lattice-matched to a GaSb substrate, and has a cutoff wavelength of approximately 4 microns. To increase the versatility and utility of the HOT-BIRD, it is implemented with IR absorber materials with customizable cutoff wavelengths.
The HOT-BIRD can be built with the quaternary alloy GaInAsSb as the absorber, GaAlSbAs as the barrier, on a lattice-matching GaSb substrate. The cutoff wavelength of the GaInAsSb can be tailored by adjusting the alloy composition. To build a HOT-BIRD requires a matching pair of absorber and barrier materials with the following properties: (1) their valence band edges must be approximately the same to allow unimpeded hole flow, while their conduction band edges should have a large difference to form an electron barrier; and (2) the absorber and the barrier must be respectively lattice-matched and closely lattice-matched to the substrate to ensure high material quality and low defect density.
To make a HOT-BIRD with cutoff wavelength shorter than 4 microns, a GaInAsSb quaternary alloy was used as the absorber, and a matching GaAlSbAs quaternary alloy as the barrier. By changing the alloy composition, the band gap of the quaternary alloy absorber can be continuously adjusted with cutoff wavelength ranging from 4 microns down to the short wavelength infrared (SWIR). By carefully choosing the alloy composition of the barrier, a HOT-BIRD structure can be formed. With this method, a HOT-BIRD can be made with continuously tailorable cutoff wavelengths from 4 microns down to the SWIR.
The HOT-BIRD detector technology is suitable for making very-large-format MWIR/SWIR focal plane arrays that can be operated by passive cooling from low Earth orbit. High-operating-temperature infrared with reduced cooling requirement would benefit space missions in reduction of size, weight, and power, and an increase in mission lifetime.
In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:
Innovative Technology Assets Management
Mail Stop 202-233
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109-8099
Refer to NPO-46477, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.