Noise spectroscopy as a highly sensitive method for non-destructive diagnostics of semiconductor devices was applied to solar cells based on crystalline silicon with a view to evaluating the quality and reliability of this solar cell type. The experimental approach was used in a reverse-biased condition where the internal structure of solar cells, as well as pn-junction itself, was electrically stressed and overloaded by a strong electric field. This gave rise to a strong generation of a current noise accompanied by local thermal instabilities, especially in the defect sites. It turned out that local temperature changes could be correlated with generation of flicker noise in a wide frequency range. Furthermore, an electrical breakdown in a nonstable form also occurred in some specific local regions what created micro-plasma noise with a two-level current fluctuation in the form of a Lorentzian-like noise spectrum. The noise research was carried out on both of these phenomena in combination with the spectrally-filtered electroluminescence mapping in the visible/near-infrared spectrum range and the dark lock-in infrared thermography in the far-infrared range. Then the physical origin of the light emission from particular defects was searched by a scanning electron microscope and additionally there was performed an experimental elimination of one specific defect by the focused ion beam milling.
Measurement of low-frequency noise properties of modern electronic components is a very demanding challenge due to the low magnitude of a noise signal and the limit of a dissipated power. In such a case, an ac technique with a lock-in amplifier or the use of a low-noise transformer as the first stage in the signal path are common approaches. A software dual-phase virtual lock-in (VLI) technique has been developed and tested in low-frequency noise studies of electronic components. VLI means that phase-sensitive detection is processed by a software layer rather than by an expensive hardware lock-in amplifier. The VLI method has been tested in exploration of noise in polymer thick-film resistors. Analysis of the obtained noise spectra of voltage fluctuations confirmed that the 1/f noise caused by resistance fluctuations is the dominant one. The calculated value of the parameter describing the noise intensity of a resistive material, C = 1·10−21 m3, is consistent with that obtained with the use of a dc method. On the other hand, it has been observed that the spectra of (excitation independent) resistance noise contain a 1/f component whose intensity depends on the excitation frequency. The phenomenon has been explained by means of noise suppression by impedances of the measurement circuit, giving an excellent agreement with the experimental data.
The paper presents the method and results of low-frequency noise measurements of modern mid-wavelength infrared photodetectors. A type-II InAs/GaSb superlattice based detector with nBn barrier architecture is compared with a high operating temperature (HOT) heterojunction HgCdTe detector. All experiments were made in the range 1 Hz - 10 kHz at various temperatures by using a transimpedance detection system, which is examined in detail. The power spectral density of the nBn’s dark current noise includes Lorentzians with different time constants while the HgCdTe photodiode has more uniform 1/f - shaped spectra. For small bias, the low-frequency noise power spectra of both devices were found to scale linearly with bias voltage squared and were connected with the fluctuations of the leakage resistance. Leakage resistance noise defines the lower noise limit of a photodetector. Other dark current components give raise to the increase of low-frequency noise above this limit. For the same voltage biasing devices, the absolute noise power densities at 1 Hz in nBn are 1 to 2 orders of magnitude lower than in a MCT HgCdTe detector. In spite of this, low-frequency performance of the HgCdTe detector at ~ 230K is still better than that of InAs/GaSb superlattice nBn detector.