Electric-field-induced reversible avalanche breakdown in a GaAs microcrystal due to cross band gap impact ionization

Klappenberger, F.; Renk, K. F.; Summer, R.; Keldysh, L.; Rieder, B.; Wegscheider, W.
July 2003
Applied Physics Letters;7/28/2003, Vol. 83 Issue 4, p704
Academic Journal
We report on a reversible avalanche breakdown due to free-carrier multiplication caused by cross band gap impact ionization in a GaAs microcrystal. The n GaAs microcrystal (length 1 µm;, diameter 1 µm; was embedded between n[sup+]GaAs layers serving as electric contacts. We guided an electric pulse to the sample and determined, from the reflected and transmitted pulse, the I(V) characteristic. The breakdown was indicated by a sudden current rise and voltage drop and a hysteresis effect and, furthermore, by electron-hole recombination radiation. We reached the threshold field for ionization by making use of a high-field domain whose formation was based on the Gunn effect. The microcrystal could reproducibly be switched into the nonequilibrium avalanche state. Our analysis indicates that the effect provides a basis for the development of an ultrafast electric switch.


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