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Dr Jeethendra Kumar P K

KamalJeeth Instrumentation and Service Unit, Tata nagar, Bangalore-560 092. INDIA.

Email: Abstract Using Ga-As based photo diode (PD) in the visible range, I-V characteristic curves are drawn and the variation of PD current with input light power is studied. PD responsivity (R) and Quantum Efficiency (QE) are calculated.

Photodiodes are semiconductor devices that respond to high-energy particles and photons.

Radiation-sensitive junction is formed in a semiconductor material whose resistivity changes when illuminated by light photons. The junction can be made to respond to the entire electromagnetic spectrum.

Figure-1: PN-junction visible range LED type PD used in the experiment Three major types of photodiodes are available in the market: (i) PN junction photo diode, (ii) PIN junction photo diode, and (iii) Avalanche photo diode (APD). PN junction photodiodes comprise a two-electrode, radiation-sensitive PN junction formed in a semiconductor material in which the reverse current varies with the amount of illumination. PIN junction photodiodes are diodes with a large intrinsic region sandwiched between p-doped and n-doped semiconducting regions. Photons absorbed in this region create electron-hole pairs that are then separated by an electric field, thus generating an electric current in a load circuit. Avalanche photodiodes are devices that utilize avalanche multiplication of current by means of holeelectron pairs created by absorbed photons. When the reverse-bias voltage of the device 1 KAMALJEETH INSTRUMENTATION & SERVICE UNIT

I-V CHARACTERISTICS OF A PHOTO DIODE approaches the breakdown level, the hole-electron pairs collide with ions to create additional hole-electron pairs, thus resulting in the signal gain. The photodiode spectral response [1] can be measured in X-ray, UV, visible, or IR regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. X-ray photodiodes are optimized for X-ray, gamma ray, and beta radiation detection. UV enhanced photodiodes are optimized for the UV and blue spectral regions, which requires special fabrication processes. Visible photodiodes operate in the visible range. Figure-1 shows the PN-junction PD used in this experiment. A photo diode behaves like a current source when illuminated. When operated without bias, the current is distributed between the shunt resistance and external load resistor. In this mode, a voltage is developed which creates forward bias, thus reducing its ability to remain as a constant current source. When operated with reverse bias, the photo diode becomes an ideal current source [2-4].

Figure-2: Typical Responsivity curve of photodiode

Picture courtesy:

Optical Characteristics Responsivity (R)

The degree of response of a silicon photodiode to light is a measure of its sensitivity, and it is defined as the ratio of the photocurrent I to the incident light power P at a given wavelength


IPD is photo diode current and


P is the light input power

In other words, it is a measure of the effectiveness of the conversion of the light power into electrical current. It varies with the wavelength of the incident light as well as applied reverse bias and temperature. By drawing a graph of PD current variation with input LED power, one can accurately determine the value of responsivity, as given by the slope of the straight line representing IPD verses P curve.

Responsivity increases slightly with applied reverse bias due to improved charge collection efficiency of the photodiode. Also it varies due to change in temperature. This is due to decrease or increase of the band gap, because of increase or decrease in the temperature respectively. Spectral responsivity may



vary from one PD to the other and it is also dependent on wavelength of the light. However, the relative variations in responsivity can be reduced to less than 1% on a selective basis. Figure-2 shows typical photodiode responsivity. It varies almost linearly with wavelength, being smaller for lower wavelength.

Quantum Efficiency (QE)

Quantum efficiency is defined as the fraction of the incident photons that contributes to photocurrent. It is related to responsivity as

Q E = 1240

I-V Characteristics
The current-voltage (I-V) characteristic of a photodiode is a set of curves relating the voltage across the junction to the current flowing through it. When the photodiode is forward biased, there is an exponential increase in the current similar to rectifier diode. When a reverse bias is applied, a small reverse saturation current appears. The forward diode current is given by

ID = Isat ( -1)

This is purely the diode equation. In the photoconductive mode [3], the photo diode operates in the reverse bias mode. Hence the width of the potential barrier (depletion region) gets higher so that the pn junction current Ipn will be governed by the thermal current Isat which flows through the diode in the absence of illumination. Hence the current through the illuminated PD is given by IPD = IP -Ipn = IP+Isat IP Where 4

IP is photon current (current due to illumination) Isat is reverse saturation current Ipn is the current flowing across the junction due to minority carriers.

Equation-4 shows that in the reverse bias case the conduction depends entirely on the illumination. Hence photo diode current is proportional to the incident light intensity. The photo diode current also follows the inverse square law and depends on the wavelength of the light. Hence there is no exact formula for estimating photo diode current in terms of an experimentally measureable quantity. As the applied reverse bias voltage increases, there is a sharp increase in the photo current and the device will be damaged permanently. This voltage is called breakdown voltage. The magnitude of the breakdown voltage varies with the type of PD. It lies in the range 5 to 100V. Hence one should not apply too much reverse bias.

Apparatus Used
Photodiode experimental setup consisting of: 0-3V regulated power supply, 0-2mA digital dc current meter, 0-20V digital dc volt meter, white light LED module, and photo diode LED type. 3 KAMALJEETH INSTRUMENTATION & SERVICE UNIT

I-V CHARACTERISTICS OF A PHOTO DIODE A transistor drive for LED is used. The LED power (PLED=VLED ILED) is directly read from the dial marked on the LED power supply. The complete experimental set-up is shown in Figure-3.

Figure-3: Photo diode experimental set-up

Experimental Procedure
The experiment consists of two parts Part-A: Determination of Responsivity Part-B: Determination of I-V Characteristics

Part-A: Determination of Responsivity

Figure-4 shows the light arrangement of the experimental setup. The white light LED and PD are placed face-to-face 10cm apart (This is the industry standard for any LED measurements) [5]. 5V power supply and transistor drives are provided for the LED as shown in Figure-5. By varying the pot in the emitter circuit the LED current is varied. A dial is provided for the potentiometer which directly reads the LED input power (PLED= VLEDILED).

Figure-4: Light arrangement of the experimental set-up 4 KAMALJEETH INSTRUMENTATION & SERVICE UNIT


1. The LED (white light) and PD are placed face to face as shown in Figure-4, and the light arrangement is switched on. LED power is set to 10mW by turning the knob to its minimum position. After ensuring that the LED is glowing and while noting the PD current in the meter, the cover is placed so that any external light will not affect the readings. Positive terminal of the PD (p) is connected to the negative terminal of the power supply and negative of the PD is connected to positive terminal of the power supply. This reverse biases the photo diode. 2. The voltage across PD is set to -1V by varying 0-3V power supply. The PD current IPD is noted. VPD = -1V, IPD =-393A 3. The LED power is increased to 11mW and VPD is again set to -1V and the corresponding PD current is noted in Table-1. 4. The trial is repeated by varying the input power to 12mW, 13mW etc. reaching up to 50mW. In each case VPD is set to -1V and IPD is noted in Table-1. 5. A graph showing the variation of LED power on X-axis and PD current on Y axis is drawn as shown in Figure-6. A straight line graph is obtained, slope of which gives the value of responsivity.
+5V LED IPD 0-3V 100K 220 LED Current Adjustment PD V PD 0-2mA 2.2K

Calibrated 500 in mW

Figure-5: Circuit Connections Table-1 IPD(A) 393 403 447 474

PLED(mW) 10 11 12 13

Rrev(K) 2.54 2.48 2.23 2.08 5


I-V CHARACTERISTICS OF A PHOTO DIODE 14 505 1.98 15 538 1.85 18 631 1.58 21 728 1.37 24 795 1.25 30 941 1.06 38 1137 0.87 50 1356 0.73 PD current variation with LED power
The external conversion efficiency of white LED [5] is 0.66, hence by dividing responsivity by 0.66 gives the exact responsivity of the PD.

R =Slope = 0.027/0.66 = 0.0409A/W = 41 mA/W

Quantum efficiency (QE) is calculated using equation-2

QE = 1240

= 1240

0.088 8.8%

The small QE value 8.8% indicates that only 8.8% of the photons fall on the photo diode and contribute to the photo current. This is because the light coming out of the LED is highly directional, forming a cone with solid angle [5]. Only a portion of the light falls on the photodiode as shown in Figure7.This parameter is similar to the fill factor in the case of a solar cell [6].

1500 IPD(A) 1000 500 0 0 10 20 30 PLED (mW) 40 50 60

Figure-6: Variation of PD current with LED power (VPD=-1V)


Figure-7: Amount of LED light falling on photodiode 6 KAMALJEETH INSTRUMENTATION & SERVICE UNIT


Part-B: Determination of I-V Characteristics of PD

In this part of the experiment PD current and voltage are recorded for different LED input powers.

6. The LED power is set to 10mW on the dial and VPD is set to -0.10V and the corresponding IPD is noted IPD=-19A 7. The trial is repeated by increasing VPD in suitable steps up to a maximum of -2V. The corresponding IPD values are noted in Table-2. Table-2 IPD(A) PLED =10mW PLED =20mW PLED =30mW PLED =40mW 0 0 0 0 -19 -47 -57 -59 -203 -338 -346 -370 -367 -631 -771 -838 -382 -686 -898 -1094 -384 -693 -921 -1132 -393 -711 -945 -1167 -404 -732 -976 -1204 Variation of PD voltage with current*
(Negative voltage and current indicate the reverse bias).

VPD(V) 0 -0.1 -0.2 -0.3 -0.4 -0.5 -1.0 -2.0

PLED =50mW 0 -72 -424 -904 -1212 -1296 -1350 -





50mW 500 0

Current IPD(uA)




-0.5 -500 -1000 -1500

Voltage VPD (V)

Figure-8: I-V characteristic curves of PD



3 PD Reverse resistance (K Ohm) 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60

LED Power (mW)

Fuigure-9: PD reverse resistance variation with LED power 8. The experiment is repeated by increasing the LED power to 20, 30, 40 and 50mW in steps. In each case variation in VPD and corresponding IPD are noted in Table-2. 9. A graph is drawn taking VPD along X-axis and IPD along Y-axis as shown in Figure-8. The equal spacing between characteristic curves indicates linearity of photo current with light intensity which is clearly indicated in Figure-6. 10. Another graph showing the PD resistance variation with light is shown Figure-9. From which one can see how the pn-junction resistance vary with light power. Results The results obtained are tabulated in Table-3. Table-3 Parameters Expt. Responsivity (R) at 575nm 0.041A/W Quantum Efficiency (QE) 8.8 % Experimental Results Typical 0.35A/W <20%

I-V characteristic curve of PD shown in Figure-8 resemble that of a Germanium diode characteristic curve in the reverse bias. The only difference in case of germanium diode (which is obsolete at present) is the different curves obtained at different temperatures. In the case of a GaAs PD, different curves are obtained for different light intensities. PD resistance varied from 2.5K to 730 for input light power varying from 10mW to 50mW. All measurements are done keeping the distance between LED and PD as 10cm which is standard in industry for LED measurements.


I-V CHARACTERISTICS OF A PHOTO DIODE Silicon diodes do not conduct in the reverse bias whereas the PDs are optimized to conduct in the reverse bias by controlling the level of doping and also due to its inherent structure. When there is no light falling on the PD it does not conduct in the reverse bias, hence light is must for conduction in PD. The responsivity value 41mA/watt is low compared to typical value for which the distance between PD and LED are not known. Similarly QE 8.8% is also low compared to the typical value.

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] Dr Jeethendra Kumar P K, LED Spectral Response, LE Vol-7, No-2, Page-87. Photodiode history of operation, AP Technologies, L Sharupich and Tugov, Optoelectronics, MIR publications, Page-63, 1987. UDT sensors, Inc. Dr Jeethendra Kumar P K, Efficiency of LED, LE Vol-10, No-1, Page-50. Dr Jeethendra Kumar P K, Solar Cell Characteristics, LE Vol-2, No-1, June- 2002, Page16.