Nano Letters

Trap-assisted tunneling in Si-InAs nanowire heterojunction tunnel diodes

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We report on the electrical characterization of one-sided p +-si/n-InAs nanowire heterojunction tunnel diodes to provide insight into the tunnel process occurring in this highly lattice mismatched material system. The lattice mismatch gives rise to dislocations at the interface as confirmed by electron microscopy. Despite this, a negative differential resistance with peak-to-valley current ratios of up to 2.4 at room temperature and with large current densities is observed, attesting to the very abrupt and high-quality interface. The presence of dislocations and other defects that increase the excess current is evident in the first and second derivative of the I-V characteristics as distinct peaks arising from trap-and phonon-assisted tunneling via the corresponding defect levels. We observe this assisted tunneling mainly in the forward direction and at low reverse bias but not at higher reverse biases because the band-to-band generation rates are peaked in the InAs, which is also confirmed by modeling. This indicates that most of the peaks are due to dislocations and defects in the immediate vicinity of the interface. Finally, we also demonstrate that these devices are very sensitive to electrical stress, in particular at room temperature, because of the extremely high electrical fields obtained at the abrupt junction even at low bias. The electrical stress induces additional defect levels in the band gap, which reduce the peak-to-valley current ratios. © 2011 American Chemical Society.