The researchers are able to accurately measure semiconductor properties of materials in small volumes, which helps engineers determine the range of applications for which such materials may be suitable in the future, particularly as the size of electronic and optical devices continues to shrink.
Daniel Wasserman, an associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, led the team that built the physical system, developed the measurement technique capable of achieving this level of sensitivity and successfully demonstrated its improved performance. The work was reported in Nature Communications.
The research team used a design approach that focused on developing the capability to provide quantitative feedback on material quality, with particular applications for the development and manufacturing of optoelectronic devices. The method demonstrated is capable of measuring many of the materials that engineers believe will one day be ubiquitous to next-generation optoelectronic devices.
In an optoelectronic material, the amount of time that the electrons remain "photoexcited," or capable of producing an electrical signal, is a reliable indicator of the potential quality of that material for photodetection applications. The current method used for measuring the carrier dynamics, or lifetimes, of photoexcited electrons is costly and complex and only measures large-scale material samples with limited accuracy.