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Zener Tunneling and Photocurrent Generation in Quasi-Metallic Carbon Nanotube pn-Devices

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journal contribution
posted on 13.11.2013 by Moh. R. Amer, Shun-Wen Chang, Rohan Dhall, Jing Qiu, Stephen B. Cronin
We investigate the electronic and optoelectronic properties of quasi-metallic nanotube pn-devices, which have smaller band gaps than most known bulk semiconductors. These carbon nanotube-based devices deviate from conventional bulk semiconductor device behavior due to their low-dimensional nature. We observe rectifying behavior based on Zener tunneling of ballistic carriers instead of ideal diode behavior, as limited by the diffusive transport of carriers. We observe substantial photocurrents at room temperature, suggesting that these quasi-metallic pn-devices may have a broader impact in optoelectronic devices. A new technique based on photocurrent spectroscopy is presented to identify the unique chirality of nanotubes in a functional device. This chirality information is crucial in obtaining a theoretical understanding of the underlying device physics that depends sensitively on nanotube chirality, as is the case for quasi-metallic nanotube devices. A detailed model is developed to fit the observed I–V characteristics, which enables us to verify the band gap from these measurements as well as the dimensions of the insulating tunneling barrier region.