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  • jalves61 8:00 pm on March 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Optoelectronics, ,   

    Photovoltaic Effect and Theory of Solar Cells 

    Just as plants receive energy from the sun and use it to produce glucose, a photovoltaic cell receive energy from the sun and generates an electrical current. The working principle is based on the PN junction, which will be revisited here.

    Silicon can be subdivided into several discrete energy levels called “bands”. The major bands of concern are the valence and conduction bands. The bottom bands are fully occupied and don’t change.

    siliconenergy

    For silicon, the bandgap energy is 1.1eV. For an intrinsic semiconductor, the Fermi level is directly between the conduction and valence band. This is because there is an equal number of holes in the valence band as electrons in the conduction band. This means the probability of occupation of energy levels in both bands are equal. The Fermi level rises in the case of an n-type semiconuctor (doped with Phosphorous) and declines towards the valence band in a p-type (doped with Boron).

    The following illustrates an energy band diagram for a semiconductor with no bias across it. Photodiodes (light sensors) operate in this manner.

    intrinsicenergy

    The Fermi energy is shown to be constant. On the far right hand side away from the depletion region, the PN junction appears to be only P-type (hence the low Fermi level with respect to the conduction band). Likewise, on the left the Fermi level is high with respect to the conduction band. The slope of the junction is proportional to the electric field. A strong electric field in the depletion region makes it harder for holes and electrons to move away from the region. When a forward bias is applied, the barrier decreases and current begins to flow (assuming the applied voltage is higher than the turn on voltage of 0.7V). Current flows whenever recombination occurs. This is because every time an electron recombines on the P side, an electron is pushed out of the N side and beings to flow in an external circuit. The device wants to stay in equilibrium and balance out. This is why solar cells (as opposed to photodiodes) are designed to operate in a forward bias mode.

    The sunlight produces solar energy in the frequency bands of Ultraviolet, infrared and visible light. In order to harness this energy, silicon is employed (made from sand and carbon). Silicon wafers are employed in solar cells. The top layer of the silicon is a very thin layer doped with phosphorous (n-type). The bottom is doped with P-type (doped with Boron). This forms the familiar PN junction. The top layer has thin metal strips and the bottom is conductive as well (usually aluminum). Only frequencies around the visible light spectrum are absorbed into the middle region of the solar cell. The photon energy from the sun knocks electrons loose in the depletion region which causes a current to flow. The output power of a single solar cell is only a few watts. To increase power, solar cells are wired in series and parallel to increase the voltage and current. Because the output of the solar cells is DC, the output is run through an inverter, a high power oscillator that converts the DC current to an 240V AC current compatible with household appliances.

    solar_16x9_2

     
  • jalves61 7:27 pm on March 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Optoelectronics,   

    Mobility and Saturation Velocity in Semiconductors 

    In solid state physics, mobility describes how quickly a charge carrier can move within a semiconductor device when in the presence of a force (electric field). When an electric field is applied, the particles begin to move at a certain drift velocity, given by the mobility of the carrier (electron or hole) and electric field. The equation can be written as: density

    This is also related to Ohm’s law in point form, which is the conductivity multiplied by the Electric field. This shows that the conductivity of a material is related to the number of charge carriers as well as their mobility within the material. Mobility is heavily dependent on doping, which introduces defects to the material. This means that intrinsic semiconductor material (Si or Ge) has higher mobility, but this is a paradox due to the fact that intrinsic semiconductor has no charge carriers. In addition, mobility is inversely proportional to mass, so a heavier particles will move at a slower rate.

    Phonons also contribute to a loss of mobility due to an effect known as “Lattice Scattering”. When the temperature of semiconductor material is raised above absolute zero, the atoms vibrate and create phonons. The higher the temperature, the more phonon particles which means greater collisions and lower mobility.

    Saturation velocity refers to the maximum velocity a charge carrier can travel within a semiconductor in the presence of a strong electric field. As previously stated, the velocity is proportional to mobility, but with increasing electric field there reaches a point where the velocity saturates. From this point, increasing the field only leads to more collisions with the lattice structure and phonons, which does not help the drift speed. Different semiconductor materials have different saturation velocities and are strong functions of impurities.

     
  • jalves61 10:31 am on March 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Optoelectronics,   

    Quantum Wells in LEDs 

    Previously, the topic of a quantum well’s functionality was discussed. Here, the topic of quantum wells’ function specifically within Light Emitting Diodes is discussed. In fact, quantum wells often implement multiple quantum wells to increase their luminescence, or total light emission.

    Quantum wells are formed when a type of semiconductor (or compound semiconductor) with a more narrow bandgap between its conduction and valence band is placed in between two wider bandgap semiconductors (such as GaN or AlN). The quantum well traps electrons within it at the conduction band, so as to increase recombination. Holes from the valence band will recombine with the conduction band electrons to emit photons which gives the LED its distinct emission of light. The quantum well is the reason why the LED does not function strictly as a diode. If the electrons were not trapped, the current would simply flow normally as in a regular LED. Although a greater number of quantum wells increases the luminescence of the LED, it can also lead to defects in the device.

    LEDs generate different colors of light by using different semiconductor material and different amounts of doping. This changes the energy gaps and leads to a different wavelength of light being produced. Gallium is a common element used in these compound materials.

     
  • mbenkerumass 6:00 am on February 25, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Optoelectronics,   

    Optical Waveguides 

    Just as a metallic strip connects the various components of an electrical integrated circuit, optical waveguides connects components and devices of an optical integrated circuit. However, optical waveguides differ from the flow of current in that the optical waves travel through the a waveguide in a spatial distribution of optical energy, or mode. In contrast to bulk optics, which guide optical waves through air, optical waveguides guide light through dielectric conduits.

    Bulk Optical Circuit:

    waveguide2

    Optical Waveguides:

    waveguide1

    The use of waveguides allows for the creation of optical integrated circuits or photonic integrated circuits (PIC). Take for example, the following optical transmit and receive module:

    optical_transmitrecieve

    Planar Waveguides

    A planar waveguide is a structure that limits mobility in only one direction. If we consider the planar waveguide to be on the x axis, then the waveguide may limit the travel of light between two values on the x axis. In the y and z directions, light may travel infinitely. The planar waveguide does not serve many practical uses, however it’s concept is the basis for other tpyes of waveguides. Planar waveguides are also referred to as slab waveguides.Planar waveguides can be made out of mirrors or using a dielectric with a high refractive index slab. See also, Planar Boundaries, Total Internal Reflection, Beamsplitters.

    waveg1waveg2

    Rectangular Waveguides

    Rectangular waveguides can also be built either from mirrors or using a high refractive index rectangular waveguide.

    waveg3waveg4.png

    The following are useful waveguide geometries:

    waveg5

    Various combinations of waveguides may produce different and useful configurations of waveguides:

    waveg6

     

     

     

     
  • mbenkerumass 6:00 am on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Optoelectronics, ,   

    Optoelectronic Integrated Circuit Substrate Materials 

    The substrate material used on an optical integrated circuit (OIC) is dependent primarily on the function performed by the circuit. An optical integrated circuit may consist of sources, modulators, detectors, etc and no one substrate will be optimal for all components, which means that a compromise is needed when building an integrated circuit. There are two main approaches that taken to deciding on a solution to this compromise: hybrid and monolithic approaches.

     

    Hybrid Approach

    The hybrid approach attempts to bond more than one substrate together to obtain an optimization for each device in the integrated circuit. This approach allows for a more optimized design for each component in theory, however the process of bolding the various elements together is prone to misalignment and damage from vibration and thermal expansion. For this reason, although the hybrid approach is a theoretically more otpimized approach, it is more common to use the monolithic approach for OIC.

     

    Monolithic Approach

    The monolithic OIC uses a single substrate for all devices. There is one complication in this approach which is that most OIC will require a light source, which can only be fabricated in optically active materials, such as a semiconductor. Passive materials, such as Quartz and Lithium Niobate are effective as substrates, however an external light source would need to be coupled to the substrate to use it.

     

    Optically Passive and Active Materials

    Optically active materials are capable of light generation. The following are examples of optically passive materials:

    • Quartz
    • Lithium Niobate
    • Lithium Tantalate
    • Tantalum Pentoxide
    • Niobium Pentoxide
    • Silicon
    • Polymers

    The following are optically active materials:

    • Gallium Arsenide
    • Gallium Aluminum Arsenide
    • Gallium Arsenide Phosphide
    • Gallium Indium Arsenide
    • Other III-V and II-VI semiconductors

     

    Losses in Substrate due to Absorption

    Monolithic OICs are generally limited to the active substrates above. Semiconductors emit light at a wavelength corresponding to their bandgap energy. They also absorb light at a wavelength equal to or less than their bandgap wavelength. It follows then, for example, if a light emitter, a waveguide and a detector are all fabricated in a single semiconductor, there is a considerable issue of light being absorbed into the substrate, meaning that not enough light will be present for the detector. Thus, reducing losses due to absorbtion is one of the main concerns in substrate materials.

    substrate

     
  • mbenkerumass 6:00 am on February 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Optoelectronics,   

    Gas Laser and Semiconductor Lasers 

    heliumconstruction

    The Gas Laser

    In laboratory settings, gas lasers (shown right) are often used to eveluate waveguides and other interated optical devices. Essentially, an electric charge is pumped through a gas in a tube as shown to produce a laser output. Gasses used will determine the wavelength and efficiency of the laser. Common choices include Helium, Neon, Argon ion, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, Excimer, Nitrogen and Hydrogen. The gas laser was first invented in 1960. Although gas lasers are still frequently used in lab setting sfor testing, they are not practical choices to encorperate into optical integrated circuits. The only practical light sources for optical integrated circuits are semiconductor lasers and light-emitting diodes.

     

    The Laser Diode

    ladio

    The p-n junction laser diode is a strong choice for optical integrated circuits and in fiber-optic communications due to it’s small size, high reliability nd ease of construction. The laser diode is made of a p-type epitaxial growth layer on an n-type substrate. Parallel end faces may functions as mirrors to provide the system with optical feedback.

     

    The Tunnel-Injection Laser

    The tunnel-injection laser enjoys many of the best features of the p-n junction laser in it’s size, simplicity and low voltage supply. The tunnel-injection laser however does not make use of a junction and is instead made in a single crystal of uniformly-doped semiconductor material. The hole-electron pairs instead are injected into the semiconductor by tunneling and diffusion. If a p-type semiconductor is used, electrons are injected through the insulator by tunneling and if the semiconductor is n-type, then holes are tunneled through the insulator.

     
  • mbenkerumass 6:00 am on February 20, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Optoelectronics, Quantum Wells,   

    The Quantum Well 

    What is a Quantum Well

    Optical Integraded devices are normally built with the consideration that the device size will be large compared to the wavelength of the beams in the system. When however, the device size is reduced to a size of the same order of magnitude as the wavelength of light in the system, unique properties can be observed. The class of device that operates under the unique properties of this arrangement is the “quantum well.”

     

    Uses of Quantum Wells

    Quantum wells may be integrated to other optical and opt-electronic integrated circuits. Uses of quantum wells include improved lasers, photodiodes, modulators and switches.

     

    Building a Quantum Well

    A quantum well structure features one or more very thin layers of narrow bandgap semiconductor material, interleaved with layers of wider bandgap semiconductors. The thickness of the layers in a quantum well are typically 100 Angstroms or smaller. Quantum wells with many layers are termed a “Multiple Quantum Well” (MQW) structure and quantum wells with only one layer are termed a “Single Quantum Well (SQW) structure. A typical MQW structure may have around 100 layers. The GaAs-AlAs material system or GaInAsP are common choices for materials in quantum well structures.

    quantumwell1

    Superlattice Structure

    A superlattice structure is a term for a case in whic a multiple quantum well structure is built with barrier wals that are thin enough that electrons are able to tunnel through the structure.

     

    The Quantum Well and Quantum Dot

    qwell1

    The quantum well reduces the separation between an electron and hole in a semiconductor, altering the wavefunction and allowing a strong exciton bonding effect at room temperature. The semiconductor laser results from this process. Wave functions in the well are shown to the right.

    When a field is applied across the well, this can result in the tilting of the wells. This can reduce the effective band gap of the material. The process of tilting the wells the alter the band gap is called the Quantum Confined Stark Effect.

    qwell3

     

    Quantum wells are generally understood in two dimensions. The conduction band is forced to be closer the valence band. When this is done in three dimensions to create a small box, where this squeezing effect can be emulated in all dimensions, this is termed a Quantum Dot. A Quantum Dot it turns out is highly effective at producing a high level of energy and as a result there is a high probability that it works as a coherent light source (laser). Quantum dots are readily used today, however since the process of fabrication employs the use of defects in a material to create a quantum dot, the coherency of the light produced is not perfect. Quantum dots are used in data centers for light transmission at a distance of meters. Quantum dots remain a low cost and reasonably efficient light transmission source for small distances. One reason for the low cost of quantum dots is that they can be grown on silicon wafers. A quantum well is not easily (highly unreliably, but perhaps not impossible) grown on Silicon wafers. The issue that arises with quantum wells when being grown on silicon wafers is that the size of atoms in the wafers and thereby the lattice constant is not readily compatible.

     
  • mbenkerumass 5:15 pm on January 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Optoelectronics,   

    ECE530 Advanced Electronics and Optoelectronics 1/21/2020 Class Notes (1st lecture) 

     

    Textbook:        High speed electronics and optoelectronics: devices and circuits, by Sheila Prasad, Hemann Schumacher, and Anand Gopinath, Cambridge university press, 2009

    Learning objective:    Principles of advanced electronics and optoelectronics are illustrated by showing their applications in advanced radar, wired/wireless communications, and electronic sensing. Key electronics/photonics devices including high speed transistors, diodes, lasers, high frequency modulators, photodetectors, amplifiers and passive circuitries are discussed.

    Outcome:       Following the completion of this course students will be able to

    1. Perform quantitative analysis of electronic and photonic systems using the basic principles covered in this course that include: wave propagation through dielectric media and optical waveguides, high frequency electronic circuits, generation and detection of light from semiconductor devices including semiconductor lasers, light emitting diodes and photodetectors and the modulation of light through the electro-optic
    2. Articulate state-of-the-art electronics and photonics technology and future trends
    3. Apply the theory of operation of electronic and photonic devices
    4. Articulate the performance and design trade-offs amongst RF, Digital, and Photonic solutions in EW architecture

    COURSE OUTLINE

    • Review of semiconductor materials and physics
      1. Semiconductor materials/crystal structure (1 week)
      2. Carrier transport/recombination/generation (2 week)
      3. Heterostructures (1 week)
    • Electronic devices
      1. High speed FET (2 week)
      2. High speed HBT (1 week)
    • Optoelectronics
      1. Optical sources (2 week)
      2. Photodetector (2 week)

     

     

    Review of Quantum Mechanics

    A course in devices would not be complete without device physics. The foundations of semiconductor devices are… Quantum Mechanics! A good resource for review in Quantum Mechanics, aside from the course textbook is the Quantum Physics course provided by MIT OpenCourseWare. This includes video lecutres, assignments, exams and more for three whole semesters’ worth of Quantum Mechanics. Quantum Physics is also important for studying the subject of Photonics and Quantum Electronics deeper and is necessary to become an expert in a related field. More review of Quantum Mechanics is to come soon.

    Quantum Physics I
    Video lectures: https://archive.org/details/MIT8.04S16/
    Syllabus: https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-04-quantum-physics-i-spring-2016/syllabus/

    Quantum Physics II
    https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-05-quantum-physics-ii-fall-2013/

    Quantum Physics III
    https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-06-quantum-physics-iii-spring-2016/

    Other courses available are found here: https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/find-by-topic/

     

    T-CAD, RSoft

    This course features the use of Rsoft and T-CAD, Silvaco for device modeling, doping and bandgap engineering problems.

     

    Semiconductors

    Silicon wafers (~4″) go for about $20. GaN wafers on the other hand go for about ~$1k. The price differential may be one of the few things silicon has going for it. In other cases, consider that Silicon does not work at high speeds. For high speed semiconductor devices, III-V semiconductors are preferred and will work better. One other interesting downside of Silicon is that it is unable to emit light.

    5301

    The Hybrid HBT is a better option for transistor technologies at higher frequencies. The HBT features higher electron mobility.

    5302

    This course will also feature study of Ternary and Quarternary Compounds. Quarternary compounds are used for quantum well lasers. Ternary Compounds feature one variable x where quarternary compounds feature two variables x,y. Another important ternary compound not listed in InGaAs.

     

    Material Growth

    We will also discuss the process for fabrication and material growth. Material growth and fabrication is a process that generally requires a high level of technological know-how and thus only few countries manage to perform this operation. Currently, it is even possible to grow one atomic layer (Angstrom) at a time. Two methods of material growth are MOCVD (Nobel Prize awarded for this discovery) and MBE (should also get a Nobel Prize soon). MOCVD is particularly best for producing many at the same time, while MBE is better used for research production.

     

    Bell Laboratories

    As an aside, consider the company that had existed before breaking up, Bell Laboratories. At Bell Laboratories, given a monopoly it was able to fund scientists and researchers to conduct free-range scientific research and discovery. Today, researchers at Universities (primarily) need to provide evidence of advancement ever 6 months or so. A program such as Bell Laboratories allowed for aimless research to be conducted, which ended up being far more successful than could have been imagined.

     

    Types of Solids

    Consider the three types of solids, Crystalline, Polycrystalline and Amorphous. Crystalline structures feature atoms that are aligned periodically and produce a unique shape (example: Quartz). Polycrystalline solids include ceramic, saphire, even possibly other metals such as steel. Interesting point about saphire – saphire is used in PCVD as a film. Amorphous solids include liquidated solids, glass and other liquids.

    5303

    Semiconductors feature a lattice structure as the two below:

    5304

     

    Crystal Directions and Planes

    The following are three types of crystal directions and planes:

    5305

    It is of note that etching in crystals must be done in only certain directions according to the ‘grain’ of the crystal. In order to split a waver along a grain, make a notch at one point on the side and apply a pressure to the wafer.

     

    Atomic Bonding
    It is important to review the effect of covalent bonding between valence electrons.

    5307

    Next class, the topic of wave equations will be covered.

     

     

     
  • mbenkerumass 9:00 am on December 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Optoelectronics,   

    Optics, Optoelectronics, Electro-Optics and Photonics 

    Optics vs. Photonics

    What is the difference between Optics and Photonics? These words are sometimes used interchangeably. A distinction may be made however. Optics, on one hand is a very old subject, whereas Photonics is a term that has only recently been used. Photonics is a word which refers to devices that primarily involve the flow of photons as opposed to electronics, which deals with the flow of electrons. The main inventions that lead to the use of the word Photonics are the laser, fabrication of low-loss optical fibers and semiconductor optical devices. Other terms that are often used to refer to these inventions and their various applications are electro-optics, optoelectronics, quantum electronics, quantum optics and lightwave technology. Many of these terms may be used interchangeably, although some of them refer to specific technologies.

    The first figure below may be viewed as an optical system, while the second figure may be referred to as a photonic system. The first figure features a light beam that is modulated, reflected and reflacted through a medium. The second figure is of a photonic integrated circuit device.

    optics2

    photonics1

     

    Electro-Optics is term for devices that incorporate both an optical and electrical properties, however are primarily optical devices. Examples of electro-optical devices are lasers and electro-optic modulators and switches.

    laser1

     

    Optoelectronics refers on the other hand to devices that are primarily electronic, but involve light, such as light-emitting diodes, photodetectors or liquid-crystal display devices.

    led

     

    Quantum Optics refers to the study of the quantum mechanical and coherence properties of light. Lightwave Technology typically is used to describe optical communications and optical signal processing devices and systems. Quantum Electronics is the study of technology concerned with the interaction of light and matter, such as lasers, optical amplifiers and optical wave mixing devices.

     
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