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A new MOS photon-counting sensor operating in the above-breakdown regime

Publication Type:

Journal Article


IEEE Trans. Electron Devices (USA), Volume ED-31, Number 10, p.1420 - 7 (1984)


charge-coupled device circuits;photodetectors;photon counting;


A solid-state optical sensor based on a buried-channel charge-transfer MOS structure and operated at voltages in the above-breakdown regime is proposed. In this mode of operation the MOS photosensor performs as a photon counter with two significant advantages over similar sensors based on p-n junction diodes, namely, self-quenching of the avalanche discharge and possible implementation in the form of a self-scanned CCD array. In this study, discrete structures in silicon are investigated experimentally. It is demonstrated that internal gains of 3×106 electrons/photon are possible during operation at about 10 V above breakdown. It is also shown that, after accounting for dark generation and retriggering effects, the photon-induced count rate saturates with increasing bias above breakdown. The results are in excellent agreement with the theoretical predictions from a two-dimensional model and imply that, at 10-15 V above breakdown, avalanche initiation probabilities for electrons in excess of 0.9 have been attained


MOS photon-counting sensor;above-breakdown regime;solid-state optical sensor;buried-channel;self-quenching;avalanche discharge;self-scanned CCD array;internal gains;two-dimensional model;initiation probabilities;