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The Story of Semiconductors$
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John W. Orton

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199559107

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559107.001.0001

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Semiconductors in the infrared

Semiconductors in the infrared

(p.385) Chapter 9 Semiconductors in the infrared
The Story of Semiconductors

John Orton

Oxford University Press

William Herschel discovered infra-red radiation in 1800 and this chapter tells the story of its application to the practical problem of ‘night vision’. Two approaches have been adopted: thermal radiation detectors, typically working in the 3-5 μm or 8-14 μm bands and photoemissive devices working in the near infra-red. Military usage began in 1917 in the form of the thallium sulphide detector and many alternative materials were developed in later years. Lead chalcogenides, InSb, HgCdTe, and PbSnTe are examples of intrinsic detectors, and donor-doped germanium is an example of an extrinsic detector. Thermal imaging techniques developed from mechanical scanning to present-day staring arrays employing CCD read-out. Photoemissive systems were initially based on alkali-antimonide photo-cathodes that have largely been replaced by the ‘negative affinity’ cathode. Recently, the energy levels within quantum well structures have been employed for thermal radiation detection (QWIPs), while a final section on long wavelength lasers introduces the quantum cascade laser.

Keywords:   infra-red, night vision, thermal imaging, photo-cathode, negative affinity, quantum cascade laser, long wavelength laser

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