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Published by mariauxilium
Description on a few diodes, Photod-diode, pin
Description on a few diodes, Photod-diode, pin

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Published by: mariauxilium on Sep 13, 2009
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1. Photodiodes
1.1 Introduction
Photodiodes are semiconductor light sensors that generate a current or voltage whenthe P-N junction in the semiconductor is illuminated by light.Photodiodes incorporate a
and an
type layer. The system has the electrical characteristicsof a rectifier. Radiation directed in the vicinity of the PN junction cause a flow of current.Photodiodes are very useful for applications where space is restricted. The effective area of a photodiode is about 0.2
and it has a pinhead of a diameter of 0.5
-layer material at the active surface and the
-layer material at the substrateform a
junction which operates as a photoelectric converter. The usual
-layer for a
 photodiode is formed by the selective diffusion of boron, to a thickness of approximately 1µm or less and the neutral region at the junction between the
layers is known as thedepletion layer.By controlling the thickness of the outer 
-layer, substrate
-layer and bottom
-layer as well as the doping concentration, the spectral response and frequency response can be controlled.When a reverse-biased
junction diode is illuminated with light, extra electron-hole pairs are generated in
regions. As a result, the minority carrier concentration changessignificantly but the majority carrier concentration does not change much. The generatedminority carriers increase the reverse current. The diode current is found to vary almostlinearly with the light flux. The diodes so operated are referred to as
 photo diodes
. Thesediodes are used in fast reading of tapes and film sound tracks, light-operated switches, andlight-detection systems.Photodiodes made from gallium arsenide are preferable to silicon photodiodes.Because silicon is an indirect-gap semiconductor, the photon absorption init requires theassistance of phonons
to create electron-hole pairs. Gallium arsenide, on the other hand, is adirect-gap semiconductor, and so can absorb photons without phonons. Hence, GaAs photodiodes have greater speed of operation, and are more sensitive to the intensity of theincident light than
1.2 Photodiode Types
a) PN Photodiode b) PIN Photodiodec) Schottky Type Photodioded) APD (Avalanche Photodiode)All of these types provide the following features and are widely used for the detectionof the intensity, position, color and presence of light.
1.3 Principle of Operation
When light strikes a photodiode, the electron within the crystal structure becomesstimulated. If the light energy is greater than the band gap energy
, the electrons are pulled
A.K. Sawhney,
 A Course in Electrical and Electronic Measurements and Instrumentation
, (Delhi: Dhanpat Raiand Co, 2008) p 718.
Phonons are aquantum mechanicalversion of a special type of vibrationalmotion, known asnormal modesin classical mechanics,in which each part of a lattice oscillates with the samefrequency.
D. Chattopadhyay and P.C. Rakshit,
 Electronics: Fundamentals and Applications
, (New Delhi: New AgeInternational Limited, 2008) p 77.
Circuit Diagram of a Photodiode
up into the conduction band, leaving holes in their place in the valence band. These electron-hole pairs occur throughout the
-layer, depletion layer and
-layer materials. In thedepletion layer the electric field accelerates these electrons toward the
-layer and the holestoward the
-layer. Of the electron-hole pairs generated in the
-layer, the electrons, alongwith electrons that have arrived from the
-layer, are left in the N-layer conduction band. Theholes at this time are being diffused through the
-layer up to the depletion layer while beingaccelerated, and collected in the
-layer valence band.In this manner, electron-hole pairs which are generated in proportion to the amount of incident light are collected in the
- and
layers. This results in a positive charge in the
-layer and a negative charge in the
-layer.If an external circuit is connected between the
- and
-layers, electrons will flowaway from the
-layer, and holes will flow away from the
-layer toward the oppositerespective electrodes. These electrons and holes generating a current flow in a semiconductor are called the carriers.The more light striking the junction, the larger is the reverse current in a photo diode.In this diode, a window lets light pass through the package to the junction. Withtypical photodiodes the reverse current is in microamperes.
1.4 Circuit and Characteristics of a Photodiode
From the figure it is very clear that the output resistance
is very high andis of the order of tens of M
The d.c. resistance, V/I is the diode leakage resistance and thattoo is very high. This resistance depends upon the light intensity. The frequency response of a photodiode is largely dependent upon the intrinsic capacity which is typically 2 pF fro areverse bias of -10 V.The cut off frequency is given by
where C is capacitance of photodiodeand R 
is the load resistance. The cut off frequency is of the order of MHz. Even in dark thereis always leakage current of the photodiode and this current is known as
dark current 
. Thedark current double about every 10
C increase in temperature for silicon and this decreasesthe signal to noise ratio.
1.5 Temperature Characteristics
Ambient temperature variations greatly affect photodiode sensitivity and dark current.The cause of this is variation in the light absorption coefficient which is temperature related.For long wavelengths, sensitivity increases with increasing temperature and this increase becomes prominent at wavelengths longer than the peak wavelength. For short wavelengths,it decreases. Since ultraviolet enhanced photodiodes are designed to have low absorption inthe short wavelength region, the temperature coefficient is extremely small at wavelengthsshorter than the peak wavelength.The variation in dark current with respect to temperature occurs as a result of increasing temperatures causing electrons in the valence band to become excited, pullingthem into the conduction band. A constant increase in dark current is observed withincreasing temperature. There is a twofold increase in dark current for a temperature risefrom 5°C to 10°C.
1.6 Applications
1.Because of their fast response time, photodiodes are sued a scene film sound tracreaders.2.They can be used as detectors of modulated light in optical communicationsystems and also in switching circuits.
1.7 Features of photodiodes
1.Photodiodes show excellent linearity with respect to incident light2.They are preferable because of low noise3.They have wide spectral response4.Photodiodes are mechanically rugged5.Photodiodes are compact and lightweight6.They are durable because of their long life.

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