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Silicon Photodiodes
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Solid-State Silicon Photodiodes


Photograph of an EUV-sensitive Si photodiode calibrated by the EUV Transfer Standard Detector Program. Silicon (Si) photodiodes are issued by NIST as transfer standard detectors throughout the vacuum ultraviolet spectral region (5 nm to 254 nm). Each device is an n on p junction with a thin (less than 15 nm) oxide layer grown on the front surface and specially processed to improve the radiation hardness. Once the chip is manufactured, it is mounted in a ceramic case. Redundant leads are wire bonded to the chip to make an electrical connection to two pins where user electronics may be easily attached. Incident radiation generates electron-hole pairs in the Si which cause an electric current to flow across the junction.

In recent years, the availability of Si standards from NIST has been restricted to the spectral region below 50 nm in wavelength. This was due to significant losses in efficiency at longer wavelengths when exposed to radiation which the oxide strongly absorbs. Recent progress in the production of radiation hardened Si devices now enables NIST to issue standards with acceptable stability characteristics at all vacuum ultraviolet wavelengths. These specially processed, hardened transfer standards are only available from NIST.

The sensitivity of a Si photodiode is typically greater than 50 electrons / photon when radiation with 5 nm wavelength is incident, but falls to an efficiency of about 5 electrons/photon when 50 nm radiation is incident. The efficiency at longer wavelengths falls to below 1 electron/photon, but is strongly dependent on interference effects in the reflectivity of the oxide/substrate system. Calibration uncertainties (2-sigma) range from 7% to 15% over most of the 5 nm to 122 nm region, with slightly larger uncertainties below 6.5 nm and between 45 nm and 50 nm. At wavelengths longer than 125 nm, uncertainties are 2%. These detectors have much higher sensitivity than photoemissive detectors, require no bias voltage, and are small and lightweight. However, they are noisier and exhibit higher dark currents than photoemissive standards and have broadband response from the infrared to the x-ray region.

A fee schedule and ordering information are available.

In addition to these Si detectors, the Vacuum UV Transfer Standard Program issues other types of transfer standard detectors:

Detector Construction and Circuit Schematic


Schematic diagram of a VUV-sensitive Si detector and an appropriate measurement circuit.

Radiation incident on the detector front surface generates electron-hole pairs in the Si. These carrier pairs are separated by the internal electric field and a photocurrent flows across the p-n junction.


Typical Efficiency of a NIST Silicon Transfer Standard


Plot of a typical quantum efficiency curve for a VUV-sensitive silicon photodiode.

Detector efficiency is expressed in terms of electrons per incident photon, and is a function of the incident radiation wavelength and the device oxide layer thickness. The extreme ultraviolet (5 nm to 50 nm) quantum efficiency of a Si photodiode is essentially the photon energy divided by the electron-hole pair creation energy (about 3.63 eV), with an additional wavelength dependent loss factor due to absorption in the oxide.