(19)
(11)EP 3 429 190 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
16.01.2019 Bulletin 2019/03

(21)Application number: 17382456.6

(22)Date of filing:  11.07.2017
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H04N 5/357  (2011.01)
H04N 5/374  (2011.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
MA MD

(71)Applicants:
  • Fundació Institut de Ciències Fotòniques
    08860 Castelldefels (Barcelona) (ES)
  • Institució Catalana de Recerca I Estudis Avançats
    08010 Barcelona (ES)

(72)Inventors:
  • KOPPENS, Frank
    08860 CASTELLDEFELS (ES)
  • GOOSSENS, Stijn
    08860 CASTELLDEFELS (ES)
  • KONSTANTATOS, Gerasimos
    08860 CASTELLDEFELS (ES)

(74)Representative: Ponti & Partners, S.L.P 
C. de Consell de Cent 322
08007 Barcelona
08007 Barcelona (ES)

  


(54)AN OPTOELECTRONIC APPARATUS, A METHOD FOR SUPPRESSING NOISE FOR AN OPTOELECTRONIC APPARATUS, AND USES THEREOF


(57) The present invention relates to an optoelectronic apparatus comprising:
- an optoelectronic device comprising:
- a transport structure (T) comprising a 2-dimensional layer;
- a photosensitizing structure (P) configured and arranged to absorb incident light and induce changes in the electrical conductivity of the transport structure (T); and
- drain (D) and source (S) electrodes electrically connected to respective separate locations of the transport structure (T);

- noise suppression means comprising a modulation unit including:
- a control unit to generate and apply on the drain (D) or source (S) electrodes a voltage oscillating signal having a component with a frequency of ωm/2π; and
- a signal extraction unit to extract a required electric signal, from an output signal, with no components below ωm/2π.


The present invention also concerns to a method for suppressing noise for an optoelectronic apparatus according to the invention, and to the use of the apparatus as a light detector or as an image sensor.




Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION



[0001] The present invention relates, in a first aspect, to an optoelectronic apparatus, comprising noise suppression means with a modulation mechanism which operates on the optoelectronic device of the apparatus itself, doing without the use of external modulation mechanisms.

[0002] A second aspect of the present invention relates to a method for suppressing noise for an optoelectronic apparatus according to the first aspect of the invention.

[0003] A third aspect of the present invention concerns to the use of an optoelectronic apparatus according to the first aspect of the invention, as a light detector or as an image sensor.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



[0004] Optoelectronic apparatuses, such as photodetectors, which comprise the features of the preamble clause of claim 1 of the present invention are known in the art, i.e. those which comprise an optoelectronic device comprising:
  • a transport structure comprising at least one 2-dimensional layer;
  • a photosensitizing structure configured and arranged to absorb incident light and induce changes in the electrical conductivity of the transport structure; and
  • drain and source electrodes electrically connected to respective separate locations of said transport structure.


[0005] Several noise sources negatively affect the performance of that kind of apparatuses, causing a high noise equivalent irradiance or noise equivalent power thereof, which makes them unable to detect low level of light levels.

[0006] In order to reduce said noise, it is known in the state of the art the integration of optoelectronic apparatuses into broader systems which already include external noise suppression means comprising modulation components which are external to the optoelectronic apparatus, generally formed by optical choppers and lock-in amplifiers.

[0007] The inclusion of said external modulation components has several drawbacks, such as, among others, an increase in the cost and size of the final product, an increase in the complexity of the control needed for its operation, as more components need to be controlled, and in a synchronized manner, an increase in power consumption, more thermal and electric losses, etc.

[0008] All of said drawbacks limit the possible applications for which said optoelectronic apparatuses can be used.

[0009] Also, the results achieved with said external noise suppressing means, in terms of noise reduction, can be improved.

[0010] Liu et al., "A graphene-based broadband optical modulator", Nature (2011), discloses a modulator (shutter) based in graphene, where, in contrast to the above mentioned types of optoelectronic apparatuses, light is absorbed in the 2-dimensional material, i.e. graphene, and which, among other differences to the above mentioned optoelectronic apparatus, limits their use as light detectors for light that does not impinge vertically, i.e. they cannot be used as image sensors.

[0011] It is, therefore, necessary to provide an alternative to the state of the art which covers the gaps found therein, by providing an optoelectronic apparatus including an optoelectronic device as described above (i.e. where the 2-dimensonal layer is not used for absorbing light), but which does not possess the above mentioned drawbacks related to the need of using external noise suppressing means.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0012] To that end, the present invention relates, in a first aspect, to an optoelectronic apparatus, comprising an optoelectronic device comprising, in a known manner:
  • a transport structure comprising at least one 2-dimensional layer;
  • a photosensitizing structure configured and arranged to absorb incident light and induce changes in the electrical conductivity of the transport structure; and
  • drain and source electrodes electrically connected to respective separate locations of said transport structure.


[0013] In contrast to the apparatuses known in the prior art, the apparatus of the present invention further comprises, in a characterizing manner, noise suppression means comprising a modulation unit including:
  • a control unit which includes a voltage generator and is configured to generate a voltage oscillating time-dependent signal having at least one component with a frequency of ωm/2π, and apply the same at least on one of the above mentioned drain and source electrodes; and
  • a signal extraction unit configured to extract a required electric signal from an output electric signal generated at a channel created in the transport structure between the source and drain electrodes upon light impinges on the photosensitizing structure, said signal extraction unit being adapted to cut out at least those components of said output electric signal at frequencies below ωm/2π to provide said required electric signal.


[0014] For a preferred embodiment, the above mentioned dielectric structure comprises one or more dielectric layers, and/or the above mentioned photosensitizing structure comprises one or more photosensitizing layers.

[0015] In the context of the present invention, a photosensitizing structure configured and arranged to absorb incident light and induce changes in the electrical conductivity of the transport structure refers to the fact that light absorption in the photosensitizing structure results in a change in charge carrier density inside the transport structure.

[0016] This can for example be due to the following processes:

An electron (or a hole) from an electron-hole pair generated in the photosensitizing structure by the absorption of a photon can be transferred to the transport structure while the hole (or the electron) of said electron-hole pair remains trapped in the photosensitizing structure, or an interface between the photosensitizing structure and the transport structure, such as for instance in a dielectric structure disposed there between. In some embodiments, the photosensitizing structure is disposed above, such as for example directly above, the transport structure. Alternatively, in some other embodiments the photosensitizing structure is disposed below, such as for example directly below, the transport structure, so that a photon must cross the transport structure before reaching the photosensitizing structure where it will be absorbed.



[0017] Alternatively, light absorption in the photosensitizing structure leads to bound charges in the proximity of the surface of the photosensitizing structure. This draws charges into the 2-dimensional layer comprised by the transport structure, which changes its electrical conductivity.

[0018] In this sense, the heterojunction formed by the photosensitizing structure and the transport structure slows down recombination and makes it possible to collect several electric carriers for a single absorbed photon, which compounded with the high carrier mobility of the 2-dimensional material comprised in the transport structure, results in a very high photoconductive gain and responsivity.

[0019] In some embodiments, the photosensitizing structure comprises a photoabsorbing semiconductor, a 2D material, a polymer, a dye, quantum dots (such as for instance colloidal quantum dots), ferroelectrics, Perovskite and/or a combination thereof.

[0020] The photosensitizing structure may for example comprise nanocomposite films containing blends of the aforementioned materials. It may also be a single-layered structure or, alternatively, a multi-layered structure, in which one or more of the aforementioned materials constitute different layers stacked on each other.

[0021] In those embodiments in which the photosensitizing structure comprises quantum dots, these are preferably of one or more of the following types: Ag2S, Bi2S3, CdS, CdSe, CdHgTe, Cu2S, CIS (copper indium disulfide), CIGS (copper indium gallium selenide), CZTS (copper zinc tin sulfide), Ge, HgTe, InAs, InSb, ITO (indium tin oxide), PbS, PbSe, Si, SnO2, ZnO, and ZnS.

[0022] Similarly, in some embodiments the at least one 2-dimensional material comprised in the transport structure comprises one or more of the following materials: graphene, MoS2, MoSe2, WS2, WSe2, black phosphorus, SnS2, Pb5Sn3Sb2S14 (Franckeite) and h-BN (hexagonal boron nitride).

[0023] For some embodiments, at least for a first, second, and third embodiments which will be described in detail below (not for the fourth embodiment described below), the optoelectronic device further comprises a conductive first gate electrode structure, and a dielectric structure arranged between the conductive first gate electrode structure and the transport structure, and the control unit is configured to apply the above mentioned voltage oscillating time-dependent signal between the conductive first gate electrode structure and at least one of the drain and source electrodes, preferably the drain electrode.

[0024] According to a first embodiment, the optoelectronic device further comprises a further electrode electrically connected to the photosensitizing structure, and the control unit is configured to generate a further voltage oscillating time-dependent signal having at least one component with a frequency of ωm/2π, and apply the same between the further electrode and one of the drain and source electrodes (preferably the drain electrode), simultaneously to the application of the voltage oscillating signal. The phase between the voltage oscillating time-dependent signal and the further voltage oscillating time-dependent signal can be controlled.

[0025] For a second embodiment, the optoelectronic device further comprises a further dielectric structure arranged over the photosensitizing structure, and a conductive second gate electrode structure arranged over the further dielectric structure, and the control unit is configured to generate a further voltage oscillating time-dependent signal having at least one component with a frequency of ωm/2π, and apply the same between the conductive second gate electrode structure and one of the drain and source electrodes (preferably the drain electrode), simultaneously to the application of the voltage oscillating time-dependent signal applied between the conductive first gate electrode structure and one of the drain and source electrodes (preferably the drain electrode). The phase between the voltage oscillating time-dependent signal and the further voltage oscillating time-dependent signal can be controlled.

[0026] For some implementations of said first and second embodiments, the control unit is configured to generate the above mentioned voltage oscillating time-dependent signal and further voltage oscillating time-dependent signal to maintain substantially constant the charge carrier density of the channel created in the transport structure.

[0027] Preferably, the control unit is configured to generate the voltage oscillating time-dependent signal and further voltage oscillating time-dependent signal so that they oscillate between maximum and minimum voltage values selected by the control unit to achieve the above mentioned goal of maintaining substantially constant the charge carrier density of the channel created in the transport structure while tuning the responsivity of the optoelectronic device (for example, by tuning the quantum efficiency of the charge transfer from the photosensitizing structure to the transport structure) from a finite value (where generally the responsivity is maximum), at said maximum voltage values, to zero, at said minimum voltage values, and vice versa.

[0028] For a specific case of the first and second embodiments, the voltage oscillating signal and the further voltage oscillating signal are phase shifted up to 180°.

[0029] Embodiments for both of the above mentioned voltage oscillating time-dependent signal and the further voltage oscillating time-dependent signal cover any kind of periodic signals, such as a sinusoidal signal, a square pulse wave, a triangular wave, etc.

[0030] For a third embodiment, the at least one 2-dimensional layer is made of graphene, and the control unit is configured to generate the above mentioned voltage oscillating time-dependent signal so that it oscillates between maximum and minimum voltage values which are equal in magnitude but with opposed signs and selected by the control unit so that charge carrier density of the channel created in the transport structure is modulated around the charge neutrality point of the graphene, between maximum and minimum charge carrier density values (+nm and -nm, where nm can be freely chosen), at a frequency of at least ωm/2π, and the electrical conductivity of the graphene layer is then modulated predominantly at a frequency ωm/π, while a component at frequency ωm/2π increases when light impinges on the photosensitizing structure.

[0031] For a more elaborate implementation of said third embodiment, the optoelectronic device further comprises:
  • a further electrode electrically connected to the photosensitizing structure; or
  • a further dielectric structure arranged over the photosensitizing structure, and a conductive second gate electrode structure arranged over the further dielectric structure.


[0032] For said more elaborate implementation of the third embodiment, the control unit is configured to generate and apply a further voltage signal to the further electrode or second gate electrode structure, simultaneously to the application of the voltage oscillating time-dependent signal, so that the responsivity of the optoelectronic device is maintained constant and above zero, preferably at a maximum or substantially maximum value.

[0033] In order to compensate dependencies of the responsivity of the optoelectronic device on the voltage oscillating time-dependent signal or other voltages applied to the conductive first gate electrode structure, for a variant of said more elaborate implementation of the third embodiment, the control unit further comprises a compensation mechanism for compensating said dependencies, said compensation mechanism comprising a compensating voltage source configured to generate and apply a compensating voltage to the further electrode or second gate electrode structure.

[0034] The above described third embodiment can be used for noise suppression not only for an opto-electronic apparatus, but also for non opto-electronic apparatuses comprising graphene based sensing devices that rely on a source drain bias to be applied to the device. Any graphene based sensing device that relies on sensing a change in conductance will be limited by 1/f noise. However, this 1/f noise can be reduced by implementing the scheme described above in the third embodiment as long as the apparatus contains at least the following elements:
  • a conductive bottom gate electrode structure;
  • a dielectric structure/layer De arranged over the conductive bottom gate electrode structure;
  • a transport structure comprising one or more 2-dimensional graphene layers arranged over the dielectric structure De;
  • drain and source electrodes electrically connected to respective separate locations of the transport structure.


[0035] Graphene based sensing devices that rely sensing a change in conductance can be divided in three categories: pure graphene, modified graphene and functionalized graphene.

[0036] In the present document, pure graphene refers to a continuous sheet of (polycrystalline or monocrystalline) monolayer graphene that can be patterned in different ways to realize the following sensors:
  • Strain sensors: by stretching the graphene its conductance is modified.
  • Charge sensors: for example for sensing absorbed gas molecules or sensing neuronal signals, the analyte of interest transfers charge to the graphene or induces and electric field that modifies the conductance of the graphene. Another application is for direct sensing of in vivo electrical signals.
  • Pressure sensors: graphene is placed between two volumes and deforms when there is a pressure difference between the two regions; this deformation induces a change in conductance.


[0037] In the present document, modified graphene refers to a sheet of graphene that is structurally or chemically modified to realize the following sensors:
  • Strain sensors: by stretching the graphene its conductance is modified.
  • Temperature sensors: a difference in temperature induces a change in conductance.
  • Biosensors using chemically bonded linker molecules that enhance the selectivity for specific bio-molecules. When the molecule of interest binds to the linker, it transfer charge to the graphene or induces an electric in the graphene. This modifies the conductance of the graphene.


[0038] In the present document, functionalized graphene refers to a continuous sheet of (polycrystalline or monocrystalline) graphene that is functionalized with a physisorbed layer that sensitizes the graphene to one of the following analytes:
  • Light: using for example colloidal quantum dots in the opto-electronic device as referred to in other embodiments in this document.
  • Biomolecules with physisorbed linker molecules. When the molecule of interest binds to the linker, it transfers charge to the graphene or induces an electric in the graphene. This modifies the conductance of the graphene.


[0039] The above described non-optoelectronic apparatus constitutes a further independent aspect which could form another invention.

[0040] The present invention also comprises a fourth embodiment, wherein the control unit is configured to apply the voltage oscillating time-dependent signal between the source and drain electrodes, and to generate the same so that it oscillates between a higher value at which responsivity of the optoelectronic device is zero or substantially zero, and a lower value (i.e., lower than said higher value) at which responsivity of the optoelectronic device is maximal or substantially maximal. In other words, for the fourth embodiment noise suppression is performed by modulating the source drain bias.

[0041] For said fourth embodiment, the at least one 2-dimensional layer is generally made of graphene, although other alternative 2-dimensional materials can also be used such as MoS2, MoSe2, WS2, WSe2, black phosphorus, SnS2 and Pb5Sn3Sb2S14

(Franckeite)



[0042] For an implementation of said fourth embodiment, the control unit is configured to generate the voltage oscillating signal to maintain substantially constant the charge carrier density of the channel created in the transport structure.

[0043] For an implementation of any of the above described embodiments, the signal extraction unit is adapted to also cut out those components of the output electric signal at frequencies above ωm/2π.

[0044] Preferably, the optoelectronic apparatus of the first aspect of the present invention comprises a photosignal extraction unit, in addition to or implemented by the signal extraction unit, adapted to extract the magnitude of the photosignal from the required electric signal.

[0045] For some embodiments, the different structures of the device of the apparatus of the first aspect of the invention are arranged (stacked one on another) on (over or under) a substrate comprised by the device.

[0046] For an embodiment, said substrate is made of a semiconductor material, such as Silicon.

[0047] For an embodiment, said substrate is a flexible and/or transparent substrate.

[0048] A second aspect of the present invention relates to a method for suppressing noise for an optoelectronic apparatus according to the first aspect of the invention, comprising performing the operations of the above described control unit, including calculating the above mentioned voltage oscillating time-dependent signal, or voltage oscillating time-dependent signal and further voltage time-dependent oscillating signal, and the application thereof on the respective electrodes and/or gate electrode structures of the optoelectronic device, and the operations of the above mentioned signal extraction unit to extract the required electric signal from the output electric signal.

[0049] For an embodiment, the method of the second aspect of the present invention further comprises performing the operations of the above indicated photosignal extraction unit, for any of the embodiments associated thereto described in the present document.

[0050] A third aspect of the present invention concerns to the use of an optoelectronic apparatus according to the first aspect of the invention, as a light detector or as an image sensor.

[0051] The applications of the present invention are in the broad photodetection field. Any photodetector based on a transport structure comprising 2D materials and a photosensitizing structure configured and arranged to absorb incident light and induce changes in the electrical conductivity of the transport structure benefits from the present invention, as they enable detection of lower light levels, reducing the noise equivalent irradiance or noise equivalent power of the detector or sensors.

[0052] The present invention can be used to implement light detectors for light that impinges vertically, including image sensors (linear or 2d arrays).

[0053] Moreover, the present invention can also be used for distance sensing applications, for example in the form of a photoelectric receiver arranged to detect light reflected on or radiated by an object.

[0054] Other applications of the present invention include ambient light sensing, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging o Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging) systems, and single pixel photodetectors.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES



[0055] In the following some preferred embodiments of the invention will be described with reference to the enclosed figures. They are provided only for illustration purposes without however limiting the scope of the invention.

Figure 1 shows a first embodiment of the optoelectronic apparatus of the first aspect of the present invention, by means of a view (a) of a schematic cross-sectional view of the device of the apparatus, and a view (b) of the apparatus including the device and an electronic connection scheme.

Figure 2 is a plot showing how the quantum efficiency can be tuned with VTD (Nikitskiy et al, 2016).

Figure 3 is a schematic diagram of the modulation scheme proposed for the first embodiment of Figure 1.

Figure 4 is a plot showing the detection results obtained for the first embodiment of Figure 1, showing in solid line the resulting signal when the device is illuminated with a constant light signal and a top electrode and bottom gate modulation as described below is implemented. In dashed the resulting detection signal after band pass filtering is plot; the signal is offset for clarity.

Figure 5 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the optoelectronic device of the apparatus of the first aspect of the present invention, for a second embodiment.

Figure 6 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the optoelectronic device of the apparatus of the first aspect of the present invention according to an arrangement which can be used for a third and fourth embodiments.

Figure 7 is a schematic diagram of the modulation scheme proposed for the third embodiment, together with a plot of the photosignal dR/R as a function of the carrier density in the graphene layer of the device, where the depicted arrow indicates the range over which the carrier density needs to be modulated to achieve noise suppression for the third embodiment.

Figure 8 shows different graphical representations of the device output waveforms obtained with the apparatus of the third embodiment, upon modulation of the bottom gate as will be described below. The upper plot shows the output signal without light, the intermediate one the output signal with constant illumination and the lower plot shows the output signal with constant illumination after band pass filtering.

Figure 9 is a plot showing the results obtained for a practical implementation of the apparatus of the present invention, for the third embodiment, relating the magnitude FFT of the output detection signal with modulation frequency.

Figure 10 is a plot which shows the responsivity of the optoelectronic device of the apparatus of the present invention, as a function of source drain bias at a constant irradiance of 50 mW/m2, for a fourth embodiment.

Figure 11 is a schematic cross-sectional view of the optoelectronic device of the apparatus of the first aspect of the present invention for an alternative arrangement to that shown in Figure 6, but which can also be used for the fourth embodiment.

Figure 12 schematically shows a full read-out chain implemented by the apparatus of the present invention, for an embodiment.

Figure 13a shows a correlated double sampling timing sequence performed at the photosignal extraction unit of Figure 12, for some implementations of embodiments 1, 2 and 3 described below.

Figure 13b shows a correlated double sampling timing sequence performed at the photosignal extraction unit of Figure 12, for some implementations of embodiment 4 described below.

Figure 14 illustrates an example implementation of the apparatus of the present invention implementing the full read-out chain of Figure 12 for some implementations of embodiments 1 and 2 using a correlated double sampling as photosignal extraction method.

Figure 15 is a schematic cross-sectional view of a non-optoelectronic device of a non-optoelectronic apparatus viable for implementing the noise suppression scheme of embodiment 3.


DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS



[0056] In the following, the above identified as first, second, third, and fourth embodiments are respectively called embodiments 1, 2, 3, and 4, and will be described with reference to the attached drawings.

Embodiment 1: Electronic shutter implemented via bottom gate and top contact modulation:



[0057] For this embodiment, the optoelectronic device of the optoelectronic apparatus of the first aspect of the present invention has the arrangement depicted by Figure 1(a), i.e. a substrate Sb, and arranged thereon:
  • a conductive bottom gate electrode structure Gb;
  • a dielectric structure/layer De arranged over the conductive bottom gate electrode structure Gb;
  • a transport structure T comprising one or more 2-dimensional layers arranged over the dielectric structure De;
  • a photosensitizing structure/layer P (semiconducting light absorber) and arranged over the transport structure T and configured and arranged to absorb incident light and induce changes in the electrical conductivity of the transport structure T;
  • a top electrode Et electrically connected (ohmic contact or Schottky contact) to the photosensitizing structure P; and
  • drain D and source S electrodes electrically connected to respective separate locations of the transport structure T.


[0058] Figure 1(b) illustrates the optoelectronic apparatus including the device of Figure 1(a) and an electronic connection scheme, including voltage generators VBD, VTD, and VSD, of the control unit (not shown) included in the modulation unit of the noise suppression means of the present invention.

[0059] The quantum efficiency of the device illustrated in Figure 1(a) can be tuned from 0 to substantially 80% using the top electrode voltage VTD which is illustrated in Figure 2, where EQE refers to External Quantum Efficiency, and R to responsivity.

[0060] The charge carrier density ng, and hence the resistance of the channel of the 2D material (i.e. of transport structure T) Rch can be tuned with both top electrode and bottom gate:
  • Top electrode: nch=CT*VTD/qe
  • Bottom gate: nch=CB*VBD/qe


[0061] Where CT and CB refer respectively to the capacitances of the top electrode Et and the bottom gate electrode Gb to the transport structure T, nch to the average carrier density in the 2D material channel and qe to the electrical charge in the channel of the transport structure T.

[0062] For the combination of voltages VTD,2, VTD,1, VBD,2 and VBD,1 that is described by the following relation, the carrier density and hence Rch is constant:



[0063] Now, assuming that at VTD=VTD,1 the quantum efficiency is 0, and at VTD=VTD,2 and VBD= VBD,2 the quantum efficiency is maximum, by setting VBD to VBD,1 given by equation (1) switching between operation points VTD,2, VBD,2 and VTD,1, VBD,1 can be done, to modulate the sensitivity of the device while keeping the resistance of the 2D material constant. This modulation is illustrated in Figure 3.

[0064] To implement said modulation respective oscillating signals need to be applied to the top electrode Et and bottom gate electrode Gb, for example sinusoidal signals (or any other periodic signal square pulse, triangular wave, etc....):
  • Top electrode: VTD=VTD,1+0.5*abs (VTD,2-VTD,1)*(sin(ωm*t+π+ϕ)+1)
  • Bottom gate: VBD=VBD,1+0.5*abs (VBD,2- VBD,1)*(sin(ωm*t+ϕ)-1)


[0065] Now, the light signal should appear at a frequency ωm.

[0066] Said oscillating signals VTD, VBD, called in a previous section as voltage oscillation signal and further voltage oscillation signal respectively, are generated by the voltage generators of the control unit of the present invention.

[0067] The modulation unit of the apparatus of the first aspect of the invention includes a signal extraction unit configured to extract a required electric signal from an output electric signal generated at a channel created in the transport structure T between the source S and drain D electrodes upon light impinges on the photosensitizing structure P, i.e. to implement the read-out of said output electric signal.

[0068] Said signal extraction unit is adapted to cut out at least those components of the output signal at frequencies below ωm/2π to provide the required output signal. This can be implemented in different ways:
  • Lock-in amplifier.
  • High pass filter with fc< ωm/2π (phase information lost).
  • Band pass filter with fc1< ωm/2π and fc2> ωm/2π (phase information lost).
  • Post-processing fast Fourier transform, implemented in hardware or software (phase information lost).


[0069] Figure 4 shows the detection results obtained for Embodiment 1, showing in solid line the resulting detection signal when the device of Figure 1 is illuminated with a constant light signal and a top electrode and bottom gate modulation as described above is implemented. In dashed, the resulting detection signal after band pass filtering is plot; the signal is offset for clarity.

Embodiment 2: Electronic shutter implemented via bottom gate and top gate modulation:



[0070] For this embodiment 2, the optoelectronic device of the optoelectronic apparatus of the first aspect of the present invention has the arrangement depicted by Figure 5, i.e. one which differs from the one of Figure 1 in that, instead of including a top electrode, it includes a top gate Gt isolated from the photosensitizing structure P by a further dielectric structure Def.

[0071] The optoelectronic apparatus of Embodiment 2 includes the device of Figure 5 and an electronic connection scheme as illustrated in Figure 1(b), i.e. including voltage generators VBD, VTD, and VSD of the control unit (not shown) included in the modulation unit of the noise suppression means of the present invention, but where the voltage generator VTD is connected to the top gate Gb (instead of to a top electrode Et).

[0072] On the same grounds as described in Embodiment 1, modulation is implemented using respective oscillating signals (voltage oscillation signal VTD and further voltage oscillation signal VBD) to be applied to the top gate Gt and bottom gate electrode Gb, for example sinusoidal signals (or any other periodic signal square pulse, triangular wave, etc....):
  • Top gate: VTD=VTD,1+0.5*abs (VTD,2- VTD,1)*(sin(ωm*t+π+ϕ)+1)
  • Bottom gate: VBD=VBD,1+0.5*abs (VBD,2- VBD,1)*(sin(ωm*t+ϕ)-1)


[0073] Now, the light signal should appear at a frequency ωm.

[0074] The read-out and signal extraction can be implemented in the same way as in Embodiment 1, i.e. by means of the signal extraction unit (not shown) of the modulation unit of the apparatus of the first aspect of the invention, providing results similar to the ones shown in Figure 4.

Embodiment 3: Noise suppression using bottom gate modulation:



[0075] For this embodiment, the optoelectronic device of the optoelectronic apparatus of the first aspect of the present invention has the arrangement depicted by Figure 6, i.e. a substrate Sb, and arranged thereon:
  • a conductive bottom gate electrode structure Gb;
  • a dielectric structure/layer De arranged over the conductive bottom gate electrode structure Gb;
  • a transport structure T comprising one or more 2-dimensional graphene layers arranged over the dielectric structure De;
  • a photosensitizing structure/layer P (semiconducting light absorber) arranged over the transport structure T and configured and arranged to absorb incident light and induce changes in the electrical conductivity of the transport structure T; and
  • drain D and source S electrodes electrically connected to respective separate locations of the transport structure T.


[0076] In this case, the present invention benefits specifically from the ambipolar conduction nature of the graphene.

[0077] The conductivity of the graphene channel of the transport structure T is described by:



[0078] Where n* is the residual carrier density of the graphene, nch the average carrier density in the graphene channel, e the electron charge and µ the mobility of the graphene.
When the bottom gate electrode Gb is modulated, one can write the following for nch:



[0079] This modulation (see Figure 7) leads to a modulation of σ, but due to the non-linear relation between sigma and nch, this modulation in σ occurs at frequency 2ωm.

[0080] Now, considering the case where light is impinging the device, this induces a constant carrier density in the graphene channel nlight, and then the conductivity of the channel is:



[0081] The conductivity will now also contain the frequency ωm, with a magnitude (in the frequency domain) proportional to the light induced density nlight.

[0082] When a signal extraction that cuts out the signals around frequencies smaller and large than ωm is implemented, a suppression of the noise has been achieved.

[0083] The reason for this suppression is that an effective quasi-static illumination leads to a signal at a higher frequency, where the device noise (often dominated by 1/f noise) is lower. The source of the 1/f noise can be either charge density, mobility or contact noise. The noise suppression scheme in Embodiment 3 functions best when the noise is dominated by mobility noise.

[0084] Hence, for Embodiment 3, the control unit (not shown) is configured to generate a voltage oscillating signal VBD (connected as VBD in Figure 1(b), i.e. between the bottom gate electrode Gb and the drain electrode D) so that it oscillates between maximum VBDmax (or VBD,1) and minimum VBDmin (or VBD,2) voltage values which are equal in magnitude but with opposed signs and selected by the control unit so that charge carrier density nch of the graphene channel is modulated between maximum nch* and minimum - nch* residual charge carrier density values at a frequency ωm/2π, and the conductivity σ of the graphene layer is modulated at a frequency ωm/π and contains a component at a frequency ωm/2π when light impinges on the photosensitizing structure P.

[0085] The read-out and signal extraction can be implemented in the same way as in Embodiment 1, i.e. by means of the signal extraction unit (not shown) of the modulation unit of the apparatus of the first aspect of the invention.

[0086] Figure 7 shows both, the voltage oscillating signal VBD used for Embodiment 3, and also a plot of the photosignal dR/R obtained with the device of Figure 6, as a function of the carrier density in the graphene layer T of the device, where the depicted arrow indicates the typical range over which the carrier density needs to be modulated to achieve noise suppression for the third embodiment.

[0087] A practical implementation of the noise suppression scheme of this Embodiment 3 is illustrated with waveforms in Figure 8 and in Figure 9.

[0088] Particularly, Figure 8 shows different graphical representations of the device output waveforms upon modulation of the bottom gate electrode Gb as described above, and Figure 9 shows the results obtained for a practical implementation of the apparatus of the present invention, modulated at a frequency of f=225 Hz. Due to non-linear effects a peak appears at 2*f ("Without light" line). Illumination with constant light causes a peak at f to appear ("With light" line).

[0089] Although not shown, for a more elaborated implementation of this Embodiment 3, the optoelectronic device further comprises a top electrode electrically connected to the photosensitizing structure P or a conductive top gate electrode structure separated from the photosensitizing structure P by a further dielectric structure, in order to perform the maintaining of the responsivity of the optoelectronic device constant and above zero and/or to generate and apply a compensating voltage to the top electrode or top gate electrode structure, as already explained in a previous section.

[0090] As stated in a previous section of the present document, Embodiment 3 can be used for noise suppression not only for an opto-electronic apparatus, but also for non opto-electronic apparatuses comprising non-optoelectronic graphene based sensing devices that rely on a source drain bias to be applied to the device.

[0091] An embodiment of such a non-optoelectronic graphene based device is shown in Figure 15, and comprises:
  • a conductive bottom gate electrode structure Gb;
  • a dielectric structure/layer De arranged over the conductive bottom gate electrode structure Gb;
  • a transport structure T comprising one or more 2-dimensional graphene layers arranged over the dielectric structure De; and
  • drain D and source S electrodes electrically connected to respective separate locations of the transport structure T.


[0092] The noise suppression scheme of Embodiment 3 described for the device shown in Figure 6 also works for the device of Figure 15.

Embodiment 4: Source drain voltage modulation for noise suppression:



[0093] For this Embodiment 4, the optoelectronic device of the optoelectronic apparatus of the first aspect of the present invention also has the arrangement depicted by Figure 6 or the one depicted by Figure 11.

[0094] In this case, noise suppression is implemented by modulating the source drain bias, based on the observation that the photoresponse can be switched off by applying a large source drain bias VSD,off such that the response of the detector is 0 (or substantially 0). Figure 10 shows this effect.

[0095] Therefore, the bias between VSD,max (or VSD,1) (source drain bias for which the responsivity is maximal) and VSD,off (or VSD,2) can be modulated according to the present invention to implement a built-in shutter for the device.

[0096] Such shutter can be implemented using a voltage oscillating signal with frequency ωm to be applied to the source S and drain D electrodes, for example a sinusoidal signal (or any other periodic signal square pulse, triangular wave, etc....):



[0097] The control unit (not shown) is configured to apply said voltage oscillating signal VSD between the source S and drain D electrodes, and to generate the same so that it oscillates between a higher value VSD,off at which responsivity of the optoelectronic device is zero or substantially zero, and a lower value VSD,max at which responsivity of the optoelectronic device is maximal or substantially maximal.

[0098] The responsivity of a prototype of the photodetector according to Embodiment 4 is shown in Figure 10, as a function of source drain bias at a constant irradiance of 50 mW/m2.

[0099] The read-out and signal extraction to suppress the noise in the final output signal can be implemented in the same way as in embodiment 1. The detector output waveforms before and after signal extraction will be the same or similar to the ones of Figure 4.

[0100] After generation of the output detection signal, i.e. the above called required electric signal, the actual photosignal needs to be extracted. In Figure 12 below the full signal read-out chain is illustrated, for an embodiment, where, in addition to the already disclosed above control unit, optoelectronic device, and signal extraction unit, a further block is included in the apparatus of the present invention, particularly a photosignal extraction unit.

[0101] The photosignal extraction can be implemented in the following ways:
  • Record a time trace of the output detection signal and measure the maximum S2 and minimum S1 of the output detection signal, then the magnitude of the photosignal is S2-S1.
  • When a fast Fourier transform (FFT) is used for the filtering, as shown in Figure 9, the magnitude of the photosignal is the value at frequency f= ωm/2π
  • When a lock-in amplifier is used for the filtering, the photosignal is directly put out by the lock-in amplifier, i.e. the photosignal extraction unit depicted in Figure 12 would be implemented by the signal extraction unit.
  • Correlated double sampling type photosignal extraction, as described below for different embodiments.


[0102] For said embodiment for which a correlated double sampling type photosignal extraction is performed, the photo signal is obtained by subtracting the signal from the signal extraction unit for VBD,1 (or VSD,2, or VTD,2) from the signal for VBD,2 (or VSD,1, or VTD,1). The read-out versus time sequence can be implemented in the following way in case the time dependent signal is a square wave:

1: Apply a voltage with value VBD,L (and/or VSD,2, and/or VTD,2)

2: Read the magnitude of output detection signal, this is value S2, store S2

3: Apply a voltage with value VBD,2 (and/or VSD,1, and/or VTD,1)

4: Read the magnitude of the output detection signal, this is value S1, store S1 S2-S1 gives the magnitude of the photosignal

Signal S1 and S2 can be for example a current or a voltage.



[0103] In figure 13a the correlated double sampling timing sequence described above, but specifically for embodiments 1, 2 and 3 is illustrated. If there is no top gate implemented in the device structure, the VTD sequence can be ignored.

[0104] In figure 13b the correlated double sampling timing sequence described above, but specifically for embodiment 4 is illustrated.

[0105] Figure 14 illustrates an example implementation of the apparatus of the present invention implementing the full read-out chain of Figure 12 for embodiments 1 and 2 using the above described correlated double sampling as photosignal extraction method.

[0106] Note that although in Figure 14 the output electric signal goes directly from the optoelectronic device to the signal extraction unit, for other embodiments (not illustrated) that's not the case, for example when a balanced read-out scheme is implemented.

[0107] A person skilled in the art could introduce changes and modifications in the embodiments described without departing from the scope of the invention as it is defined in the attached claims.


Claims

1. An optoelectronic apparatus, comprising an optoelectronic device comprising:

- a transport structure (T) comprising at least one 2-dimensional layer;

- a photosensitizing structure (P) configured and arranged to absorb incident light and induce changes in the electrical conductivity of the transport structure (T); and

- drain (D) and source (S) electrodes electrically connected to respective separate locations of said transport structure (T);

characterised in that the optoelectronic apparatus further comprises noise suppression means comprising a modulation unit including:

- a control unit which includes a voltage generator and is configured to generate a voltage oscillating time-dependent signal having at least one component with a frequency of ωm/2π, and apply the same at least on one of said drain (D) and source (S) electrodes; and

- a signal extraction unit configured to extract a required electric signal from an output electric signal generated at a channel created in said transport structure (T) between said drain (D) and source (S) electrodes upon light impinges on said photosensitizing structure (P), said signal extraction unit being adapted to cut out at least those components of said output electric signal at frequencies below ωm/2π to provide said required electric signal.


 
2. The optoelectronic apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said optoelectronic device further comprises a conductive first gate electrode structure (Gb), and a dielectric structure (De) arranged between said conductive first gate electrode structure (Gb) and said transport structure (T), and wherein said control unit is configured to apply said voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VBD) between said conductive first gate electrode structure (Gb) and at least one of said drain (D) and source (S) electrodes.
 
3. The optoelectronic apparatus according to claim 2, wherein said control unit is configured to apply said voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VBD) between said conductive first gate electrode structure (Gb) and said drain (D) electrode.
 
4. The optoelectronic apparatus according to claim 2 or 3, wherein the optoelectronic device further comprises a further electrode (Et) electrically connected to said photosensitizing structure (P), and wherein said control unit is configured to generate a further voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VTD) having at least one component with a frequency of ωm/2π, and apply the same between said further electrode (Et) and one of said drain (D) and source (S) electrodes, simultaneously to the application of the voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VBD).
 
5. The optoelectronic apparatus according to claim 2 or 3, wherein the optoelectronic device further comprises a further dielectric structure (Def) arranged over said photosensitizing structure (P), and a conductive second gate electrode structure (Gt) arranged over said further dielectric structure (Def), and wherein said control unit is configured to generate a further voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VTD) having at least one component with a frequency of ωm/2π, and apply the same between said conductive second gate electrode structure (Gt) and one of said drain (D) and source (S) electrodes, simultaneously to the application of the voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VBD).
 
6. The optoelectronic apparatus according to claim 4 or 5, wherein the control unit is configured to generate said voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VBD) and said further voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VTD) so that they oscillate between maximum (VTD,2; VBD,2) and minimum (VTD,1, VBD,1) voltage values selected by the control unit to maintain substantially constant the charge carrier density (nch) of said channel while tuning the responsivity of the optoelectronic device from a finite value, at said maximum voltage values (VTD,2; VBD,2), to zero, at said minimum (VTD,1, VBD,1) voltage values, and vice versa.
 
7. The optoelectronic apparatus according to claim 4, 5 or 6, wherein said voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VBD) and said further voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VTD) are phase shifted up to 180 °.
 
8. The optoelectronic apparatus according to claim 3, wherein said at least one 2-dimensional layer is made of graphene, and wherein said control unit is configured to generate said voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VBD) so that it oscillates between maximum (VBDmax) and minimum (VBDmin) voltage values which are equal in magnitude but with opposed signs and selected by the control unit so that charge carrier density (nch) of said channel is modulated around the charge neutrality point of the graphene between maximum and minimum charge carrier density values at at least a frequency ωm/2π, and the conductivity (σ) of the graphene layer is modulated at a frequency ωm/π and contains a component at a frequency ωm/2π when light impinges on the photosensitizing structure (P).
 
9. The optoelectronic apparatus according to claim 8, wherein the optoelectronic device further comprises:

- a further electrode (Et) electrically connected to said photosensitizing structure (P); or

- a further dielectric structure (Def) arranged over said photosensitizing structure (P), and a conductive second gate electrode structure (Gt) arranged over said further dielectric structure (Def),

and wherein the control unit is configured to generate and apply a further voltage signal to said further electrode (Et) or second gate electrode structure (Gt), simultaneously to the application of said voltage oscillating signal (VBD), so that the responsivity of the optoelectronic device is maintained constant and above zero.
 
10. The optoelectronic apparatus according to claim 9, wherein the control unit is configured to generate and apply said further voltage signal to the further electrode (Et) or second gate electrode structure (Gt), so that the responsivity of the optoelectronic device is maintained constant at a maximum or substantially maximum value.
 
11. The optoelectronic apparatus according to claim 10, wherein the control unit further comprises a compensation mechanism for compensating dependencies of the responsivity of the optoelectronic device on the voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VBD) or other voltages applied to the conductive first gate electrode structure (Gb), said compensation mechanism comprising a compensating voltage source configured to generate and apply a compensating voltage to the further electrode (Et) or second gate electrode structure (Gt).
 
12. The optoelectronic apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said control unit is configured to apply said voltage oscillating time-dependent signal (VSD) between said drain (D) and source (S) electrodes, and to generate the same so that it oscillates between a higher value (VSD,off) at which responsivity of the optoelectronic device is zero or substantially zero, and a lower value (VSD,max) at which responsivity of the optoelectronic device is maximal or substantially maximal.
 
13. The optoelectronic apparatus according to any of the previous claims, comprising a photosignal extraction unit, in addition to or implemented by the signal extraction unit, adapted to extract the magnitude of the photosignal from the required electric signal.
 
14. A method for suppressing noise for an optoelectronic apparatus according to any of the previous claims, comprising performing the operations of said control unit, including calculating said voltage oscillating time-dependent signal, or voltage oscillating time-dependent signal and further voltage oscillating time-dependent signal, and the application thereof on the respective electrode(s) and/or gate electrode structure(s) of the optoelectronic device, and the operations of said signal extraction unit to extract said required electric signal from said output electric signal.
 
15. Use of an optoelectronic apparatus according to any of claims 1 to 13, as a light detector or as an image sensor.
 




Drawing









































REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Non-patent literature cited in the description