Engineering, 2010, 2, 617-624
doi:10.4236/eng.2010.28079 Published Online August 2010 (
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. ENG
Progress in Antimonide Based III-V Compound
Semiconductors and Devices
Chao Liu, Yanbo Li, Yiping Zeng
Key Laboratory of Semiconductor Materials Science, Institute of Semiconductors, Chinese Academy of Sciences,
Beijing, China
Received December 2, 2009; revised February 11, 2010; accepted February 15, 2010
In recent years, the narrow bandgap antimonide based compound semiconductors (ABCS) are widely re-
garded as the first candidate materials for fabrication of the third generation infrared photon detectors and
integrated circuits with ultra-high speed and ultra-low power consumption. Due to their unique bandgap
structure and physical properties, it makes a vast space to develop various novel devices, and becomes a hot
research area in many developed countries such as USA, Japan, Germany and Israel etc. Research progress
in the preparation and application of ABCS materials, existing problems and some latest results are briefly
Keywords: Antimonide Based Compound Semiconductors (ABCS), IR Laser, IR Detector, Integrated Circuit,
Functional Device
1. Introduction
Antimonide based compound semiconductors (ABCS)
mainly refer to the antimonide based binary, ternary and
quaternary compound semiconductor materials, consist-
ing of the III-group elements (Ga, In, Al, etc.) and Sb, As
and other V-group elements, such as GaSb, InSb, Al-
GaSb, InAsSb, AlGaAsSb, InGaAsSb and so on. Their
crystal lattices are around 6.1Å and they together with
the InAs-based materials have been routinely called the
“6.1Å III-V family materials”. Antimonide based semi-
conductors with narrow bandgap as the basic feature, in
the condition of lattice matched or nearly matched with
strain with GaSb, InAs, InP and other commonly used
substrates, their bandgap can be adjusted in a wide range
coveraging from near-infrared wavelength 0.78 m (AlSb)
to far-infrared spectral regions 12 m (InAsSb). The
heterojunctions formed between them can have type-I,
type-II staggered and type-II misaligned band lineups.
The unique band structure and excellent physical proper-
ties of ABCS based materials provide great freedom and
flexibility for band engineering and structural design of
materials and create a broad space for development of
high-performance microelectronics, opto-electronic de-
vices and integrated circuits. Applications could include
active-array space-based radar, satellite communications,
ultra-high-speed and ultra-low power integrated circuits,
portable mobile devices, gas environmental monitoring,
chemical detection, bio-medical diagnosis, drug analysis
and other fields [1-8].
2. The Physical Properties and Preparation
Technology of ABCS Based Materials
The in-depth study of antimonide based semiconductor
materials and devices applications was rapidly developed
in recent ten years. Especially after the antimonide based
compound semiconductors program (ABCS program) [9]
was launched by Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency (DARPA) of USA in 2001, a series of important
developments and breakthroughs have been made in the
study of antimonide based microstructure materials and
device applications worldwide. The narrow bandgap an-
timonide based compound semiconductors are widely
regarded as the first candidate materials for fabrication of
the third generation infrared photon detectors and inte-
grated circuits with ultra-high speed and ultra-low power
consumption and also as the important materials for
middle and far infrared quantum cascade lasers and
thermophotovoltaic cells suitable for medium and low
temperature heat sources.
The comparison of physical properties of III-V com-
pound semiconductors (at RT) is showed in Table 1. We
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. ENG
Table 1. Comparison of physical properties of III-V compound semiconductors (at RT).
Physical properties InSb GaSb AlSb InAs GaAs InP GaN
Energy gap/(eV) 0.18 0.70 1.63 0.36 1.42 1.35 3.39
Electron mobility/
(cm2/V.s) 8×104 5 000 200 3×104 8 500 5 400 900
Electron saturation velocity
(× 107cm/s) 4.0 4.0 1.0 1.0 2.7
Electron mean free path
length/nm 226 194 80
Effective mass
0.018 (L)
0.4 (H)
0.025 (L)
0.37 (H)
0.082 (L)
0.45 (H)
0.12 (L)
0.55 (H)
Thermal conductivity
(W/cm.K) 0.15 0.4 0.7 0.27 0.5 0.7 1.3
Relative dielectric constant 17.9 15.7 12.04 15.1 12.8 12.5 9
can see that ABCS have excellent physical properties.
For example the InSb has the smallest bandgap, the
smallest effective mass of carriers, the largest electronic
saturation drift velocity and mobility of any III-V com-
pound semiconductor materials. The relationship be-
tween energy gap & spectral wavelength and lattice con-
stant is shown in Figure 1 which also shows the evolu-
tion of HEMTs and HBTs transistors for higher frequen-
cies and lower power operation. The relative position
between energy gap and band offset of III-V semicon-
ductors is shown in Figure 2. Thus it can be seen that
there is a considerable band offset and a rich structure of
the energy band alignment in the ABCS heterojunctions.
By regulating the compositions of ABCS multiple com-
pounds, it is convenient to carry out the bandgap engi-
neering of novel devices in the condition of the lattice
match or the strained match.
Antimonide based compound semiconductors can
generally be divided into bulk crystals and film materials.
The most common bulk crystals are GaSbInSb and
InAs. Due to the relatively low melting point of GaSb
and InSb, i.e., 712 and 525 respectively, no diss℃℃ o-
ciation near melting point temperature and small satura-
tion vapor pressure, they can be prepared using the hori-
zontal Bridgman growth of zone melting or vertical
drawn VP method which is similar to the growth of Ge
bulk crystal. While the InAs (melting point 943) bulk
crystal can be grown using liquid covering Czochralski
(LEC) Pulling Method or vertical gradient freeze (VGF)
method which is similar to the growth of GaAs bulk
crystal. Because of their small bandgap, at room tem-
perature, ABCS’s intrinsic carrier concentration are too
high to get high resistivity (semi-insulating) substrate
materials which is a serious impediment to the ABCS’s
applications in the field of microelectronic devices. At
present the ultra-high pure InSb bulk crystal’s carrier
concentration can be less than 1013/cm3 and the residual
hole concentration of GaSb bulk crystals is about 2 ×
1016/cm3. Because the growth process is very immature
and there is immiscible gap in the multi-elements anti-
monide, the ternary, quaternary antimonide bulk crystal
materials are rarely used.
The commonly used methods for preparation of anti-
monide film materials are liquid phase epitaxy (LPE),
molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) and metal organic
chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD or OMVPE). LPE
method has the advantages of relatively simple process,
less expensive epitaxial equipment, high utilization rate
of the source material, high crystalline quality of the epi-
taxial films, fast growing, particularly suitable for the
preparation of thick-film materials and so on. LPE
method is a near-thermodynamic equilibrium growth
technology, and therefore can not be used for the growth
of the metastable ternary, quaternary antimonide materi-
als whose components in the immiscible gap. Its growth
rate is generally higher than MOCVD and MBE, and
changes from different substrate crystalline phases with
the typical growth rate of 100nm/min to a few μm/min.
The weakness of LEP is that it can not be used for preci-
sion controlled growth of very thin films of nano-scale.
That is to say that it is not applicable to the growth of
superlattices or quantum-well devices and other complex
micro-structure materials. In addition, the morphology of
materials grown by LPE is usually worse than that grown
by MOCVD or MBE. In recent years, a new method
which combines LPE with Zn diffusion technology for
low-cost, high efficient GaSb based InGaAsSb homoge-
neous pn junction thermophotovoltaic (TPV) cells has
been developed [8]. This method first grows lattice
matched n-In0.15Ga0.85As0.17Sb0.83 (0.55eV) epitaxial layer
on the Te-doped n-type GaSb substrate associated with
the LPE, then forms the pn homojunction in the In-
GaAsSb layer using Zn diffusion method. The external
quantum efficiency of the TPV is as high as 90% at 2 m
radiation wavelength and the cut-off wavelength is 2.3
m, very close to the technical parameters of materi-
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. ENG
Figure 1. Energy gap & spectral wavelength versus lattice constant, showing the evolution of HEMTs and HBTs transistors
for high-frequency and low-power operation [1].
Figure 2. Relative position between energy gap and band
offset of III-V semiconductors.
als grown by MOCVD or MBE. In addition, LPE method
is also used to grow materials of mid-infrared InGaAsSb,
InSb-based infrared detectors, LED and LD. It is a rela-
tively mature, high efficiency, low cost growth technol-
ogy which is easy to realize the industrialization.
Both MOCVD and MBE are low temperature epitaxial
growth technology of non-thermodynamic equilibrium.
You can grow almost all compositions of the multi-
elements compound thin films including the ternary,
quaternary antimonide which is in the immiscible-gap
and in the metastable state. Both of them can be used for
growth of complex micro-structural materials of ultra-
thin layers and is very suitable for development of new
optoelectronic devices and circuits. Antimonide based
materials grown by either MOCVD or MBE have their
own characteristics. For a specific device structure, it is
still hard to judge which growth method used for growth
of the device structure is better. In general, MOCVD is
suitable for mass production of epitaxial materials whose
device structure is relatively mature and easy to expand
the size and production capacity. While the MBE is more
suitable for research and development of the novel epi-
taxial materials with hyperfine and complex structures.
Although production-based MBE equipment has been
developed, it is still not economical using the MBE for
mass production when considering the cost.
The first epitaxial growth of antimonides thin film
materials using MOCVD was done by Manasevit and
Simpson in 1969 who used TMGa and SbH3 (stibine)
source for growing GaSb films [4]. Different from epi-
taxial materials grown by MBE, The types of metallor-
ganics have a critical influence on the quality of epitaxial
materials grown by MOCVD. The commonly used
III-group metal-organic sources by MOCVD for anti-
monide based compounds are 3-methyl compound and
3-ethyl compound, such as: TMGa, TMIn, TMAl, TEGa,
TEIn, etc. The commonly used V-group sources are
TMSb, AsH3, PH3, TMBi and RF-N2, etc. Antimonides
are generally low melting point materials and the tem-
perature of epitaxial substrate is generally about 500.
In addition to TMIn’s lower decomposition temperature
(250-300), the majority of III-group metal-organic
sources can not be completely decomposed below 500.
Therefore, to growing InSb material whose melting point
is only 525, new organic source material with a lower
decomposition temperature must be adopted. At present
the new organic sources which have been successfully
applied for growing antimonides by MOCVD are:
TDMASb (trisdimethylaminoantimony, decomposition
temperature < 300), TBDMSb, TASb (triallyanti-
mony), TMAA (trimethylamine alane), TTBAl (triterti-
arybutylaluminum), EDMAA ( ethyldimethylaminealane)
and so on. In addition, because of the lack of room tem-
perature chemical stabilized antimony hydride (SbH3),
when growing Al-containing antimonide materials (such
as: AlSb, AlGaSb, AlGaAsSb, etc.), it is easy to appear
carbon and oxygen contamination problem. This phe-
nomenon may be related to the lack of active hydrogen
atoms on the surface of epitaxial materials in which C is
general for p-type doping. Even if the Al content in the
alloy is only 20%, the doping concentrations of C and O
can reach more than 1 × 1018/cm3 in the epitaxial film.
This causes certain difficulties in growing n-type doping
Al-containing antimonide films. The presence of high
concentration of O impurity in Al-containing antimonide
materials will make these materials have the semi-
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. ENG
insulating properties and difficult to measure their elec-
trical properties. The origin of O impurity is very com-
plex, and both the purity of the metal organic sources and
the epitaxial environment and process conditions are
closely related. The development of new organic alumi-
num source such as TMAA, TTBAl, EDMAA etc. is
precisely in order to inhibit the serious C contamination
problem [4-5]. Thus, growing AlSb and their multiele-
ment materials using MOCVD is the most challenging
work in all the III-V epitaxial materials technologies.
The epitaxial growth of antimonide materials using
MBE was following earlier pioneering work of the IBM
group of L.L Chang and L. Esak, first on InAs/GaSb and
InAs/AlSb films [3]. Different from MOCVD process,
MBE uses ultra-high vacuum epitaxial environment with
single-element materials for molecular beam sources and
is easy to implement epitaxy of atomic layer and in situ
real-time monitoring, avoiding the C-pollution problem
which exits in Al-containing materials growing by
MOCVD and greatly reducing the concentration of O
doping. In fact most of the prototype devices having
complex fine structures and low-dimensional structures
(quantum wells, quantum wires and quantum dots) were
first achieved using materials grown by MBE. It is
noteworthy that, no matter MOCVD or MBE method,
the use of substrates whose surface orientation have a
small angle offset (i.e., low-density atomic step on the
surface of the substrate) seem to be more accessible
high-quality epitaxial layers. Experiments confirmed that
the use of GaSb (100) substrates miscut 2° towards (110)
or 6° towards (1ī1) B may get higher crystal quality of
InGaAsSb and AlGaAsSb epitaxial layers [5]. To over-
come the difficulty that antimonides have no semi-insu-
lating substrate materials, the use of GaAs, Si and other
heterogeneous substrate materials for epitaxy of ABCS
films have also attracted great attention. H. Toyota, etc.
[10] reported that they grown high-quality GaSb/AlGaSb
multi-quantum well (MQW) structures with a 5nm AlSb
initiation layer and a relatively thick GaSb buffer layer
(0.5-2.0 µm) grown on Si (001) substrates by molecular
beam epitaxy. The photoluminescence (PL) emission
around 1.55 µm wavelength was observed for GaSb/
AlGaSb MQW structure at room temperature. Low dis-
location density, high-quality GaSb epitaxial films on
GaAs (001) substrates stripe-patterned with SiO2 is also
prepared by MOCVD with low temperature epitaxial
lateral overgrowth (ELO) method [11].
Apart from common binary, ternary and quaternary
antimonides being composed of Al, Ga, In, As and Sb, in
order to extend the applications of antimonide-based
materials in the far-infrared band ( 5 m), easy to adjust
the material lattice constant to match the substrates’ lat-
tice constant of GaSb, InAs et al. and develop new func-
tional materials, recently some ternary, quaternary anti-
monides containing N( 2%), P or Bi( 2%) and five-
elements antimonides such as AlGaInAsSb, GaInNAsSb
etc have also aroused people’s concern and research in-
terest [12-14]. T. Ashlet, etc. [12] found that the addition
of a small percentage of nitrogen ( 2%) to GaSb, InSb,
and GaInSb materials would significantly change their
energy band structures (bandgap become smaller) which
is very conducive to develop multi-band infrared detec-
3. Application of ABCS Materials
The early focus of antimonide based compound semi-
conductors comes from its application prospect in mid-
and far-infrared (photon) detectors, but the first to enter
the market and get a large-scale industrial production is
high-sensitivity InSb magnetoresistive Hall sensors. In
2004, Asahi Kasei Electronic (AKE) of Japan which ac-
count for 70% of the global market share of Hall sensors
announced that its InSb Hall sensor output had reached
more than 100 million per month. These products are
widely used in small brushless DC motors, automotive
electronics and consumer electronics products and other
fields. InSb-based infrared detector arrays have gained a
market dominant position of ground-infrared applications
and space instrumentation fields. In addition to these
more mature products, antimonide materials have made
great progress in the third-generation infrared focal plane
array detectors, mid and far infrared quantum cascade
lasers, quantum dot lasers, ultra-high-speed, ultra-low-
power and low-noise amplifiers, thermophotovoltaic
devices and so on in recent years. The following de-
scribes some latest results and trends of development of
application of ABSC materials.
3.1. Microelectronic Devices and Integrated
HEMT and HBT devices and circuits used by millime-
ter-wave radar and high-frequency digital communica-
tions have so far experienced first generation based on
GaAs-based materials, second generation based on
InP-based materials and is currently to the development
of third generation of HEMT and HBT devices and cir-
cuits based on antimonide based compound materials
with ultra-high speed, ultra-lower power consumption
and noise factor. After DARPA launched the ABCS pro-
jects in 2001, Rockwell Scientific Company (RSC)
starting in 2003, has developed Ka-band (34-36 GHz),
W-band (92-102 GHz) and X-band (8-12 GHz) low
noise amplifier microwave monolithic integrated circuit
(MMIC) and the transmit/receive (T/R) integrated mod-
ules based on InAs/AlSb mHEMT through its mature
GaAs pHEMT technology platform. Currently ABCS
Integrated Circuit was regarded as a core and key tech-
nologies to accelerate the development by DARPA and
the short-term goal is to develop practical ABCS IC
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. ENG
products with integration of transistors more than 5000
and the working voltage of about 0.5 V.
The five-stage W-band MMIC LNA chip is shown in
Figure 3 [15]. The compact 1.2 mm2 five-stage W-band
LNA using 0.2-μm gate length InAs/AlSb metamorphic
HEMTs demonstrated a 3.9 dB noise-figure at 94 GHz
with an associated gain of 20.5 dB, fT = 142GHz, fmax =
178 GHz. The measured dc power dissipation of the
ABCS LNA was only 6.0 mW which is less than one-
tenth the dc power dissipation of a typical equivalent
structure [15] is grown using MBE on semi-insulating
GaAs substrates using an AlSb buffer to accommodate
the lattice mismatch and a strained InAlAs cap layer to
provide a chemically stable surface layer and minimize
gate leakage. Hall measurements show 2DEG of InAs
channel concentration and mobility to be 3.7 × 1012 cm-2
and 19,000 cm2/Vs at 295K.
Growing the Sb-based HEMTs on Si substrate can
combine the high mobility of antimonide based com-
pound materials and excellent features of Si substrate
with broad application prospects. M.K. Kwang et al. [16]
reported their research results of growing AlGaSb/InAs
HEMT structure on Si substrates. By using an AlGaSb
buffer layer containing InSb quantum dots for dislocation
termination, they can effectively terminate the propaga-
tion of micro-twin-induced structural defects into over-
lying layers, resulting in the low defect material grown
on a largely mismatched substrate with a relatively thin
buffer layer. Figure 4 shows the schematic of the Al-
GaSb/InAs HEMT grown on Si substrate. The high qual-
ity AlGaSb/InAs HEMT materials grown on Si (001)
substrate with the electron mobility of higher than 16000
cm2V1s1 at room-temperature and a sheet density of 2.5
× 1012 cm2 were obtained by using this technique. It
seems to provide a new way of integrating Sb-based de-
vices and circuits on Si substrate.
3.2. Infrared Detectors
There has been more than 60 years in the study of the
infrared photon detectors. The development of the first
Figure 3 A photomicrograph of the five-stage ABCS HEMT
MMIC W-band LNA fabricated by Rockwell Scientific
Figure 4. Schematic of the AlGaSb/InAs HEMT grown on
Si substrate [16].
generation of infrared detectors began in the late forties
of the last century, using one-dimensional linear arrays
which were made of lead salt such as PbSe, and PbTe to
detect the mid-infrared (MWIR) (3-5 m). The second
generation infrared detector materials were mainly InSb
and HgCdTe (MCT) for the two atmospheric IR win-
dows of the mid-infrared band and the far-infrared band
(LWIR) respectively [17]. The devices with the focal
plane array structures of one dimension and two dimen-
sions are currently very widely used and more mature
products. In recent years, the third generation infrared
detectors were researched and developed in many coun-
tries, their main features are multi-band infrared detec-
tion, high-resolution (high pixels and high frame rate),
high operating temperatures, high spatial uniformity,
high stability and low cost [18]. As it is difficult for the
MCT to achieve large area uniformity and stability, the
ABCS superlattice materials is generally considered as
the preferred materials of the third-generation infrared
detectors [6-7]. In principle, the bandgap of the ABCS
superlattice materials can be tailored to cover the entire
spectrum area of infrared detection by adjusting the
thickness and composition of the ABCS materials [19].
In 2007, C.J. Hill et al. of the Jet Propulsion Labora-
tory [20] reported the GaSb/InAs type-II superlattice
detectors grown on unintentional doped p-type GaSb
(100) substrate designed for 2–5 μm and 8–12 μm bands
infrared absorption. The LWIR detectors have detectivi-
ties as high as 8 × 1010 Jones (cm.H1/2/W) with a differ-
ential resistance–area product (RoA) greater than 6 Ohm
cm2 at 80 K with a cutoff wavelength of approximately
12 μm. The measured internal quantum efficiency (QEi)
of these front-side illuminated devices is close to 30% in
the 10–11 μm range. The MWIR detectors have detectiv-
ities as high as 8 × 1013 Jones with a differential resis-
tance–area product greater than 3 × 107 Ohm cm2 at 80 K
with a cutoff wavelength of approximately 3.7 μm. The
measured internal quantum efficiency of these front-side
illuminated MWIR devices is close to 40% in the 2–3 μm
range at low temperature and increases to over 60% near
room temperature. From the RoA and QEi indicators, we
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. ENG
can see that the ABCS II-type superlattice mid-infrared
detector will have a great potential for application of
mid-infrared focal plane array devices of non-low-tem-
perature environment. In addition, InAs/InGaSb type-II
superlattice materials have also been widely concerned
and in-depth research and they are considered as candi-
date materials for the third-generation infrared detectors.
Two-color or dual-band infrared detectors have the
ability of inhibiting the complex background and im-
proving the target detection efficiency and can signifi-
cantly improve the system performances. Dual-band
LWIR/VLWIR type-II superlattice infrared detectors was
reported by E. H. Aifer et al. [21]. The cut-off wave-
lengths of the two bands are 11.4μm and 17 μm respec-
tively. But the quantum efficiency of the dual-band in-
frared detectors is too low (only 4-5%) compared to the
single-band type II superlattice infrared detectors and the
device structure needs to be further optimized. High
quality GaSb based two-color 288 × 384 MWIR InAs/
GaSb type-II SLS FPAs was reported by M. Münzberg
et al. [22] of the Fraunhofer Institute in Freiburg. First,
the “blue channel” consisting of 330 periods of p-type of
a 7.5 ML InAs/10 ML GaSb was deposited on the GaSb
substrate for spectral selective detection in the 3.0-4.1
μm wavelength range. Next, the “red channel” consisting
of 150 periods of a 9.5 ML InAs/10 ML GaSb superlat-
tices was deposited for spectral selective detection in the
4.1-5.0 μm wavelength range. The thickness of the entire
vertical pixel structure is only 4.5 μm, which signifi-
cantly reduces the technological challenge compared to
dual- band HgCdTe FPAs with a typical total layer
thickness around 15 μm. Excellent thermal resolution
with Noise Equivalent Temperature Difference (NETD)
< 17 mK for the “red channel” and NETD < 30 mK for
the “blue channel” has been achieved.
3.3. Infrared Lasers
Solid-infrared laser has important applications in gaseous
environmental monitoring, chemical detection, bio-medi-
cal diagnosis, satellite remote sensing technology and so
on. Antimonide based compound semiconductor with
bandgap corresponding to just 2-5 m mid-infrared at-
omspheric window is an important material of mid-in-
frared lasers. Research and development of new high-
performance antimonide-based infrared laser are very
active research subjects in recent years and researchers
have made a series of important research results such as
AlGaAsSb/InGaAsSb multi-quantum well lasers [23],
AlSb/InAs/InGaSb type-II quantum cascade lasers [24],
“W”-shaped mid-infrared laser [25], InGaSb quantum
dot lasers [26].
Antimonide-based interband cascade laser combining
the advantages of quantum cascade (QC) laser and
type-II quantum well interband laser has potential to
achieve continuous output of high-power infrared laser at
room temperature and is an international hot subject of
research and development. Mid-infrared interband cas-
cade laser made from InAs/Ga(In)Sb/AlSb muti-quantum
wells was reported by C. J. Hill et al of Jet Propulsion
Laboratory [27]. This laser structure was grown on
p-GaSb001 substrate by MBE as follows sequence:
0.3 μm GaSb buffer layer, 2-3 μm InAs/AlSb superlattice
bottom claddings, multi-quantum well InAs/Ga(In)Sb
/AlSb active layers ( be repeated 12-35 times), InAs/
AlSb superlattice top claddings and finally an n-type
InAs cap layer. The total thickness of epitaxial layers
was more than 8μm. A 15 μm × 1.5 mm laser made from
sample J377 lased in cw mode up to 212 K with an emis-
sion wavelength near 3.3 m. Significant output power
(over 30 mW/facet at 140K) has been obtained from the
laser with relatively low injection currents and the laser
was able to operate in pulsed mode up to 325 K. A
15 μm×1 mm laser made from sample J435 lased in cw
mode at temperatures up to 165 K with a lasing wave-
length of 5.43 μm at a current of 70.5 mA. The threshold
current density increased from 43 A/cm2 at 80 K to
470 A/cm2 at 165 K. The laser was able to operate in
pulsed mode up to 325 K with an emission wavelength
of 5.7 μm. However, at temperatures higher than 230 K,
the spectral linewidth is relatively broad with operation
voltages higher than 10 V.
GaInSb quantum dot surface-emitting laser (QD-
VCSEL) operating in optical communication wavelength
band of 1.3-1.55 μm with continuous emission at room
temperature by either optical pumping or current injec-
tion was reported by researchers of Japan’s National In-
stitute of Information and Communication Technology
[26]. This laser mainly consists of an antimonide-based
quantum dot active layer and two AlAs/GaAs superlat-
tice distributed Bragg reflectors (DBRs). With the de-
velopment of antimonide-based quantum dots, they have
overcome the technical difficulty of preparing a material
that emits light in the entire optical communication
wavelength bands of 1.3 to 1.55 μm on a GaAs substrate
through conventional technologies. In particular, the ob-
tained wavelength of 1.55 μm represents the world’s
longest emission wavelength of existent surface-emitting
laser structures based on GaAs substrate. It has great
significance for mass production of low-cost surface-
emitting lasers used in next-generation ultra-high-speed
optical communication technology.
High-power optically pumped semiconductor vertical
external cavity surface emitting laser (VECSEL) operat-
ing at 2-μm wavelength was reported by A. Härkönen et
al. [28]. The device material was grown on GaSb sub-
strate by MBE and consisted of 15 Ga0.78In0.22Sb quan-
tum-wells placed within a three-lambda GaSb cavity and
grown on the top of an 18-pairs AlAsSb/GaSb Bragg
reflector. When cooled down to 5 and using 790-nm
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. ENG
diode laser for optical pumping, this laser emitted up to 1
W of optical power in a nearly diffraction-limited Gaus-
sian beam demonstrating the high potential of antimon-
ide material for VECSEL fabrication. LED devices based
on InGaAsSb/AlGaAsSb multi-quantum well active re-
gion sandwiched between two AlAsSb/GaSb n- and p-
doped Bragg mirrors structure has realized operation in
continuous wave mode under electrical injection at room
temperature and exhibited a bright emitting peak near 2.3
m with an external quantum efficiency of 0.16% at 34
A/cm2 [29]. It shows that antimonides have enormous
potential in the development of new high-power, electri-
cal injection and continuous-wave emission mid-infrared
optoelectronic devices.
3.4. Thermophotovoltaic Cells
Thermophotovoltaic cells are similar to the solar cells
that utilize the thermal infrared radiation of a heated
source to directly generate electric power. The current
trend of development of TPV is to develop high effi-
ciency, low cost, narrow-bandgap (0.6 eV or less) ther-
mophotovoltaic materials and components applicable to
the mid- and low-temperature radiation source (
1500). It appears that antimonide based compounds
have been one of the leading material systems for ther-
mophotovoltaic device applications and the most studied
TPV is GaSb-based InGaAsSb p-n cells fabricated by
LPE, MOCVD, MBE and other methods. TPV cells
based on InAsSbP, grown on InAs substrate, can have
spectral responses in the 2.5-3.4 m wavelength range
and it is a hopeful research direction of having great po-
tentials. For further details, please refer to M.G. Mauk’s
review paper [8].
4. Conclusions
As the first candidate materials for fabrication of the
third generation large-scale focal plane arrays infrared
(photon) detectors, integrated circuits with ultra-high
speed and ultra-low power consumption and new high
efficiency thermophotovoltaic devices, the research and
development of antimonide based compound semicon-
ductor materials and device applications are in the as-
cendant, attracting increasingly widespread concern and
research interests of researchers and institutions in the
world. Compared to currently more mature GaAs-based
and InP-based materials growth and device manufactur-
ing process, the growth technology of antimonide based
micro-structure materials such as heterojunctions, super-
lattice quantum wells and self-aligned quantum dots con-
tinues to face considerable great difficulties and technical
challenges and the manufacturing process of various an-
timonides devices are far from mature. Therefore, there
are tremendous opportunities for R&D and innovations
in this area. With the gradual suppression or elimination
of the adverse factors affecting device performance in
narrow bandgap antimonide based compounds (such as
composition segregation, Auger recombination, surface
recombination, carrier absorption, etc.) by continuous
optimization of material growth techniques, improving
the device structure design and manufacturing processes
and other technologies, we believe that in the near future,
new types of high-performance antimonide devices and
integrated circuits will get a wide range of important
applications in the infrared imaging technologies, atmos-
pheric environmental monitoring, biomedical diagnostics,
multi-function digital radar systems, mobile communica-
tions, thermophotovoltaic power generation systems, and
many other high-tech fields.
5. Acknowledgements
This work was supported by the National Natural Sci-
ence Foundation of China (Grant No.60876004).
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