Princeton University

School of Engineering & Applied Science

II-VI Materials-Based High Performance Intersubband Devices

Arvind Pawan Ravikumar
Engineering Quadrangle B327
Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 11:00am to 12:30pm

Mid-infrared (mid-IR) light is of vital technological importance because of its application in trace-gas absorption spectroscopy, imaging, free-space communication or infrared countermeasures. Thus the ability to generate and detect mid-IR light at low cost and preferably, at room temperature is of utmost importance. High performance quantum cascade (QC) lasers - mid-IR light sources based on optical transitions in thin quantum wells, and intersubband infrared detectors - namely the quantum well infrared photodetectors (QWIPs) and quantum cascade detectors (QCDs), have rapidly advanced, due to excellent material quality of III-V materials. In spite of this tremendous success, there lie challenges such as lack of efficient short-wavelength emitters or broadband detectors - challenges that arise from intrinsic materials properties.
As a central theme in this thesis, we look at a new class of materials, the II-VI based ZnCdSe/ZnCdMgSe system, to close technological gaps and develop high performance infrared light sources and detectors in the entire mid-IR regime. We demonstrate the flexibility that the combination of II-VI materials and band structure engineering allows by developing various QWIPs, QCDs and QC emitters at different wavelengths, not easily achieved by other materials. The performance of these first-of-their-kind detectors is already comparable to existing commercial solutions. To fully realize the potential of this new material system, we also developed a room-temperature broadband infrared detector with record responsivity. With this technology, it is now possible to monolithically integrate high performance mid-IR lasers and detectors for on-chip applications. One of the challenges with all intersubband detectors is that they do not absorb normally incident light, like most conventional detectors. In order to make intersubband detectors attractive to commercial exploration, we develop a novel method to achieve normal-incident absorption, taking advantage of light-scattering in sloped surfaces; this method is wavelength independent and does not involve complicated fabrication techniques. With the performance of II-VI devices matching or surpassing existing commercial solutions, integrated mid-IR photonics based sensing is poised to play a big role in the future of sensing technologies.