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Garishma Mittal
11405497, RE2407A15,Solid state devices
Dept. of Electronics and communication engineering
Lovely professional university
Jalandhar, India
AbstractThe photodiode is a primary photodetector structure
which is used in CCD and CMOS image sensor. In this topic we
have given the introduction of photodiode. We have explain the
operation, working and application of the end, we
have given future work and reference.


Index TermsPhotodiode, Dark current, Photodiode current,

Reverse biasing

A photodiode is a photosensitive device that converts light
into current. The current is generated when photons are
absorbed in the photodiode. A small amount of current is also
produced when no light is present. Photodiodes may contain
optical filters, built-in lenses and may have small or large
areas. Photodiodes usually have small response time as their
surface area increases. The common, traditional solar cell used
to generate electric solar power is a large area photodiode.

Photodiode is a two terminal semiconductor P-N junction

device and is designed to operate with reverse bias. The basic
biasing arrangement, construction and symbols for the device
are given in diagram. The output voltage is taken from across a
series connected load resistor R. This resistance may be
connected between the diode and ground or between the diode
and the positive terminal of the supply as shown in figure. The
photosensitive material used for coating are CdS, ZnS, PbS.
A photodiode is a P-N junction or PIN structure. When a
photon of sufficient energy strikes the diode, it creates an
electron and hole pair. The property where the conductivity of
material increases with light is called the photoconductive
effect. In a photodiode photosensitive coating is provided only
at the junction. When light falls slightly away from the
junction , the photodiode will not respond to the light. The total
current through the photodiode is the sum of the dark current
and the photocurrent. Photodiode has very high sensitivity and
this is due to larger width of depletion layer. so the dark current
must be minimize to maximize the sensitivity of the device.
When light falls at the convex lense. The maximum
intensity of this light falls at the junction and a large number of
minority carriers are generated and conductivity of the
photodiode increases. The current in the photodiode is given as

I = Io + Iphoton
The photodiode current has two current components:
1. Io-thermally generated current in reverse biased
2. Iphoton-current passing into photodiode due to the light.
When light falls on a photodiode the photon current is
getting added to the thermally generated current in the device

basis for solar cells- a traditional solar cell is just a large area
B. Photoconductive mode
In this mode the diode is often is reverse biased. This
reduces the response time because the additional reverse bias
increases the width of depletion layer, which decreases the
junctions capacitance. The reverse bias also increases the dark
current without much change in the photocurrent.

Iphoton > Io
I~ Iphoton
The minority carrier generated due to the light, cross the
junction from higher concentration to lower concentration.
Hence Iphoton current is a diffusion current.
In forward bias photodiode will work as a normal diode
and current is due to the majority carrier. When light falls at the
junction a large number of covalent bond will be broken and
equal number of electrons and holes are generated. The
minority carrier are blocked in the forward bias diode and little
number of minority carrier crossing the junction.

A. Responsivity
The responsivity of a photodiode is a measure of the
sensitivity of light, and it is defined as the ratio of the
photocurrent to the incident light power at a given
In other words it is measure of the effectiveness of the
conversion of light power into electrical current. It varies
with the light of incident wavelength as well as applied
reverse bias.

A. Photovoltaic Mode
When used in zero bias or photovoltaic mode, the flow of
photocurrent out of the device is restricted and a voltage builds
up. This mode exploits the photovoltaic effect, which is the

B. Dark current
The current in the photodiode in the absence of light, when
it is operated in photoconductive mode. The dark current
induces the photocurrent generated by background radiation
and the saturation current of the semiconductor junction.

instruments to analyze the samples and pulse oximeters. P-N

photodiodes are not used to measure extremely low light
intensities. Instead if high sensitivity is needed avalanche
photodiode and photomultiplier can be used for many
applications such as astronomy, spectroscopy, night vision
equipment and laser range finding.


A cubic composite solar sensor with photodiode is

proposed for tracking the relative solar orientation. The
Proposed solar cell composes of five photodiode
detectors which are placed on the right, left, front,
black and horizontal facets in a cubic body. the solar
detectors placed on five facets can detect solar power
of different facets.
Photodiodes for optical radiation measurements are
used without reverse bias in many applications. since
his operation yields the lowest dark current. To obtain
photodiode having low bias and having lower dark
current. It is necessary to make epitaxial layer that are
pure and having lower defects.


James F. Cox (26 June 2001). Fundamentals of

linear electronics: integrated and discrete. Cengage

C. Response time
A photon absorbed by the semiconductor material will
generate an electron hole pair which will in turn start moving
in the material under the effect of an electrical field and thus
generate a current. The finite duration of this current is called
transit time spread.

Learning. pp. 91. ISBN 978-0-7668-3018-9.

Retrieved 20 August 2011.

Optical Receivers with Integrated Photodiode in

Nanoscale CMOS Springer, 2011 ISBN 1-44199924-8, Chapter 3 From Light to Electric Current -

Photodiodes are used in consumer electronics such as
compact disc players, smoke detectors and the receivers for
the remote control devices used to control equipments from
television to the air conditioners. For many applications either
photodiodes or photodetectors may be used. Either type of light
sensor may be used for light measurement, as in camera light
meters or to respond to light levels, as in switching on street
lighting after dark. Photodiodes are often used for accurate
measurement of light intensity in science and industry. They
generally have a more linear response than photodetectors.
They are widely used in various medical applications such as

Filip Tavernier, Michiel Steyaert High-Speed

The Photodiode

"Photodiode slide".
Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson. Crystal
Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of
the Information Age.


"The phototransistor". Bell Laboratories RECORD.

May 1950.