Nano-thermoelectric infrared bolometers

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Infrared (IR) radiation detectors are used in numerous applications from thermal imaging to spectroscopic gas sensing. Obtaining high speed and sensitivity, low-power operation, and cost-effectiveness with a single technology remains to be a challenge in the field of IR sensors. By combining nano-thermoelectric transduction and nanomembrane photonic absorbers, we demonstrate uncooled IR bolometer technology that is material-compatible with large-scale CMOS fabrication and provides fast and high sensitivity response to long-wavelength IR (LWIR) around 10 μm. The fast operation speed stems from the low heat capacity metal layer grid absorber connecting the sub-100 nm-thick n- and p-type Si nano-thermoelectric support beams, which convert the radiation induced temperature rise into voltage. The nano-thermoelectric transducer-support approach benefits from enhanced phonon surface scattering in the beams, leading to reduction in thermal conductivity, which enhances the sensitivity. We demonstrate different size nano-thermoelectric bolometric photodetector pixels with LWIR responsitivities, specific detectivities, and time constants in the ranges 179 V/W-2930 V/W, 1.5 × 107 cm Hz1/2/W-3.1 × 108 cm Hz1/2/W, and 66 μs-3600 μs, respectively. We benchmark the technology against different LWIR detector solutions and show how nano-thermoelectric detector technology can reach the fundamental sensitivity limits posed by phonon and photon thermal fluctuation noise.
Original languageEnglish
Article number036111
JournalAPL Photonics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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