Materials Sciences and Applications, 2011, 2, 364-369
doi:10.4236/msa.2011.25047 Published Online May 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Electronic Transport Study of ZnTe and ZnSe
Siham Khedim, Nasr-Eddine Chabane Sari, Boumediene Benyoucef, Benyounes Bouazza
Research Unit of Materials and Renewable Energies, Tlemcen University, Tlemcen, Algeria.
Received March 8th, 2011; revised March 24th, 2011; accepted March 30th, 2011.
The transport properties of electrons in ZnTe and ZnSe are of great interest because of their numerous technological
applications. This paper investigates several calculation results of Monte Carlo device simulation. The average quanti-
ties directly accessible by the simulation are the drift velocity, the carriers’ energy and diffusion. The method we
choosed to study the transport phenomena uses a three valley model (Γ, L, X) non-parabolic. The results have been ob-
tained by applying the electric field in the direction <100>. Finally we compared our results with those obtained pre-
Keywords: Transport Properties, Monte Carlo Method, Three Valley Model, Semiconductor Materials
1. Introduction
Zinc Telluride (ZnTe) and Zinc Selenide (ZnSe) are
among the important semiconductor materials of II–VI
group because of their extensive potential applications in
different optoelectronic devices specifically light-emit-
ting and visible laser diodes in the blue spectral region
[1,2]. ZnTe thin films grown at room temperature and
higher substrate temperatures were found to be polycrys-
talline in nature [3]. They are widely used for high effi-
cient photovoltaic cells [4,5].
II–VI semiconductor superlattices, excitonic properties
are expected to play a prominent role in optical transi-
tions due to the much larger exciton binding energies
than these in III–V compound semiconductors [6].
The aim of the proposed research is the study of the
high-field carrier transport in both ZnTe and ZnSe bulk
semiconductor materials, to obtain a better understanding
of the electronic transport process in modern semicon-
ductor devices.
The study of electronic transport phenomena consists
of computer simulations based on the ensemble Monte
Carlo technique. This method determines the carrier dis-
tribution function through the solution of the Boltzmann
transport equation within a semi-classical framework.
The particular Monte Carlo simulation used includes full
details of the band structure as well as numerically cal-
culated electron-phonon scattering rates. Furthermore,
low-energy scattering rates are incorporated into the si-
mulation using an improved method that accounts for the
warping present in the valence bands of each investi-
gated material. Among the various outputs of interest of
the Monte Carlo simulation are the carrier drift velocities,
the average energy, and the band occupancy. Finally the
present research also contributes to the theoretical know-
ledge of transport properties namely electronic energy,
drift velocity, diffusion coefficient and electron’s mobi-
lity under high electrical field and temperatures.
ZnSe and ZnTe can crystallize in either the wurtzite or
zinc-blend phase. The wurtzite lattice structure results in
some unusual material properties when compared to the
zinc-blend (or diamond) structure of the conventional se-
miconductor materials [7,8].
2. Description of the Used Monte Carlo
2.1. Boltzman Transport Equation
An accurate solution of the carrier transport problem in
semiconductor materials is essential to fully understand
the device operation and such a solution depends upon
the accurate knowledge of the distribution function of
electrons and holes under nonequilibrium conditions, for
example under the influence of an applied electric field.
It is possible to formulate the carrier transport problem in
a concise mathematical form; the Boltzmann transport
equation (BTE), as follows:
 
,, 1
,, ,,
fvrt vfvrtF fvrt
vrtSvvf vrtSvv
 
 
Electronic Transport Study of ZnTe and ZnSe
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
This is an integro-differential equation for the carrier
distribution function f, which itself is a function of the
real space coordinate r, the velocity v, and the time t.
The first term on the right hand side corresponds to the
charge in the particle number in a given real space vol-
ume dr, while the second term shows a similar change in
the velocity space. The third term basically indicates the
scatterings in and out an infinitesimal velocity space vo-
lume dv. This is the most intricate term that makes the
BTE an analytically hard-to-solve integro-differential
equation that would otherwise be a regular partial differ-
ential equation [9]. In fact, analytical solutions of the
BTE for real systems are possible only for a limited
number of cases where strong and usually questionable
approximations are made.
The Boltzmann transport equation was originally de-
rived employing classical mechanical arguments and it
was used, for example, to describe the transport of clas-
sical gases. In the semi-classical framework, the BTE can
be applied to a large variety of carrier transport problems
under the following assumptions [10-12]:
The collision frequency 1
is sufficiently small
so that the initial and final states are well defined in
momentum and energy.
The transition from state k to one of the many final
states k' occurs instaneously (zero collision dura-
The first assumption is a clear violation of Heisen-
berg’s Uncertainty Principle. That is why the Boltzmann
transport equation is not applicable to cases where quan-
tum mechanical effects are important.
Several numerical solutions such as the drift-diffusion
based models [13], the hydrodynamic and energy-trans-
port models [14,15] have been proposed. Except Monte
Carlo, all of these methods are based on taking a finite
number of moments of the BTE, and solving the result-
ing equation by standard discretization techniques. Al-
though computationally efficient, these methods are in-
herently incapable of modeling the detailed physical
processes occurring in a material, particularly at a mi-
croscopic level. With regard to a complete understanding
of the physical mechanisms underlying the operation of
semiconductor devices, the Monte Carlo method is the
most informative of all the existing numerical approaches,
providing a statistically rigorous solution to the Boltz-
mann transport equation.
2.2. Description of the Simulation Steps
The principle of this method consists in monitoring the
behavior of each electron submitted to an electric field
E, in real space and wave vectors space.
The various steps in a typical Monte Carlo simulation
are summarized below, emphasizing the approaches used
in the present carrier simulator:
1) Definition of the simulation parameters and initial
conditions: input parameters for the Monte Carlo simula-
tion include the physical constants of the material of in-
terest, as well as the details of the band structure and the
rates of all the relevant scattering mechanisms.
2) Free-flight of the carrier: the Monte Carlo approach
treats the transport problem as a series of free flights fol-
lowed by scattering events. During the free flight, the
charges move according to the simple semi-classical equa-
tion of motion:
t (2)
where e is the electronic charge and E is the applied
3) Scattering time: one of the most important parame-
ters to be evaluated in the Monte Carlo method is the
time interval between collisions. Essentially, there are
two approaches to determine when a scattering event
occurs. The first approach, based on the “self-scattering”
concept introduced by Rees [16], uses a fictitious scat-
tering process that alters neither the energy, nor the mo-
mentum of a particle. This method does not affect the
physics of the problem, yet the mathematical details can
be highly simplified through the use of a self-scattering
term in the Boltzmann equation [17]. However, the self-
scattering technique loses its efficiency if used with nu-
merically generated band structures since; in this case,
the semi-classical equations of motion can no longer be
integrated analytically. In the present simulator, the con-
stant time step method is used to determine the time in-
terval between scatterings. The time step is chosen to be
much smaller than the inverse of the total electronic
scattering rate.
4) Selection of the scattering event: if the electron
scatters, the type of scattering it suffers is again selected
using a random number, according to the normalized
probability distribution of all the possible scattering me-
5) State of the hole after scattering: the k-state of the
hole after scattering is determined under conditions dic-
tated by the physics of the previously selected scattering
The described simulation requires a good knowledge
of studied material characteristics, in this case ZnTe and
ZnSe. Especially the characteristics of a conduction band
play a predominant role in the study of transport phe-
nomena. Levels minima valleys indicate the energy from
which an electron can transfer. This method uses a three
valley model developed first by M. A. Littlejohn [18].
The three valleys are Γ, L and X considered isotropic and
non-parabolic. Overall data for this model of band struc-
Electronic Transport Study of ZnTe and ZnSe
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
ture of ZnTe and ZnSe are summarized in the following
Table 1.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Electronic Energy
We present on Figure 1 and Figure 2 the average energy
as a function of time for different values of electric field
for the cited materials ZnSe and ZnTe. The curves have
the same shape. We notice that for strong electric fields
the carriers acquire higher energies for same temperature
conditions 300 K. Comparing the two curves, one no-
tices that the ZnTe reaches higher energies than those in
ZnSe for same electric field values.
For E = 700 kV/cm, the energy reaches a value of
about 200 eV in the case of ZnTe and a value of about 90
eV in the case of ZnSe. We note also that two phases
exist. In the first one, the carriers are quickly accelerated
and the energy is almost linear. In this time collisions are
becoming more numerous, leading to a spread of energy
distribution. Thereafter it stabilizes in the second phase,
because electrons lost their energy in the collisions.
The observed behavior is quite different depending on
the temperature of the lattice. At 300 K for electric fields
close to zero, the energy of carriers is small and its dis-
tribution is little spread out. This means there is practi-
cally no carrier susceptible of emitting intervalley pho-
nons of high energy. That is to say no carrier energy of
which is at least equal to the energy emitted in an inelas-
tic collision. It results in a fairly rapid increase of the
average energy. When the field increases, all carriers are
heated, the energy distribution broadens the number of
carriers that emit photons increases and the increase of
the average energy with the electric field is lower. At
high lattice temperatures this phenomenon is not detect-
able because even for low-field, the energy distribution
of carriers is sufficiently spread out to permit an impor-
Table 1. Data on the band structure of ZnTe and ZnS [19].
ZnTe ZnSe
Effective masses
Levels of
the valleys
2.35 eV
2.38 eV
2.84 eV
2.82 eV
1.58 eV
1.49 eV
Figure 1. Energy variation with time in ZnSe.
Figure 2. Energy variation with time in ZnTe.
tant emission of very energetic phonons including all
types of phonons involved in collisions [20,21].
3.2. Drift Velocity
The curves on Figure 3 and Figure 4 represent the varia-
tion of drift velocity as a function of electric field. The
curves show the existence of three phases: a rapid and
linear increase of the drift velocity followed by a peak
and then the decrease of speed until saturation. In fact,
the carriers are in the central valley Γ. During phases of
free flight, the carriers are subject to the influence of
electric field and thus are accelerated because of the low
value of effective mass, at the same time they gain en-
Reaching a threshold, such carriers lose their speed
and their energy in collisions. And because of interac-
tions, electrons will be able to win the necessary energy
Electronic Transport Study of ZnTe and ZnSe
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
Figure 3. Drift velocity variation with electric field for
Figure 4. Drift velocity variation with electric field for
to be transferred from the Γ valley into a side valley L or
X. Once carriers will be in high valleys, their energy will
converge towards a stationary value since any gained
energy by electrons will compensate the energy he has
ceded to the crystal lattice. Thus, the drift velocity de-
creases until saturation.
The over-speed phenomenon was studied by many
authors and specific simulations of type Monte Carlo. It
appears in semiconductors when subjected to an electric
field, one will take into account the transitory effects that
exist when electrons are subjected to an electric field [22].
One recognizes a semiconductor material that is sub-
ject to any electric field, the distribution of carriers is a
Maxwell Boltzmann distribution. Suppose that Time = 0,
applying an electric field to electrons has the immediate
effect moving electrons representative points in the same
direction within the wave-vectors space [17].
3.3. Coefficient of Diffusion
The definitions of the diffusion coefficient by sprawl of a
packet and by noise, which do not imply any condition
on the field, are applied also for high field. The Monte
Carlo methods permit to skirt around the difficulties that
present the definition of a diffusion coefficient in high
fields. These definitions take into account both the dis-
tribution of electrons between the valleys, and transfers.
Figure 5 and Figure 6 show the evolution of the dif-
fusion coefficient as a function of time in strong field (E
= 300 kV/cm). The curve’s shape presents a steep slope,
which is traducing both the accelerating action of the
field, reinforced by the low value of the effective mass in
Central Valley, and the anisotropy due to the dominant
interactions which favor speed in the direction parallel to
the field.
After this first phase, the shape of curves shows satu-
Figure 5. Coefficient of diffusion variation with time ZnSe.
Figure 6. Coefficient of diffusion variation with time ZnTe.
Electronic Transport Study of ZnTe and ZnSe
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. MSA
ration. This is explained by the fact that electrons have
transferred to the side valleys, and have undergone inter-
actions and thus, have lost their excess energy, hence the
4. Conclusions
We have presented a complete material study performed
on the ZnSe and ZnTe. It is focused on the characteristics
of speed, energy and diffusion coefficient. We have
achieved this study from a simulation using Monte Carlo
methods that simplify the study of transport phenomena.
The application of the simulation led to highlight the
evolution of the energy resulting carriers transfer from
the central valley to the side valleys, followed by the
relaxation phenomenon. Otherwise we have highlighted
the phenomenon of over speed. When carriers are accel-
erated by the electric field their drift velocity decreases
until saturation after transmitting their energy to the
crystal lattice or during collisions. We have compared
our results with those obtained previously and we think
that they are with a good agreement [23-25].
At last, we have defined the mechanisms of diffusion.
From the comparison between the two materials we can
conclude that ZnSe is best suited for optoelectronic ap-
plications, and ZnTe is best suited for photovoltaic ap-
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