Leti says FD-SOI light-sensing technique can make transistors far more sensitive to visible light

Leti, an institute of CEA Tech, has developed a new light-sensing device that integrates photodiodes below the buried oxide (BOX) of FDSOI transistors, making the transistors very sensitive to visible light.

Presented today during IEDM 2016 in the paper, “Extending the Functionality of FDSOI N- and P-FETs to Light Sensing,” the innovative device architecture uses capacitive coupling, which doesn’t necessarily require an electrical connection between the transistor and the diode. Leti said preliminary results show that sensitivity in the visible spectrum is already better than 0.1pW/µm2, with a wide dynamic range (seven orders of magnitude, i.e. similar to most advanced CMOS image sensors).

“FDSOI is a very versatile technology that already has been shown to be ‘faster, cooler, and simpler’ than FinFET, and which also may become smarter for More than Moore applications such as imaging,” said Lina Kadura, who presented the paper. “In fact, it may be smarter for sensing generally, because FDSOI transistors can be considered as very small footprint probes that are sensitive to the electric potential below the BOX.”

In addition to embedding more light-sensing functionality in circuits, potential future applications include leveraging pixel size in image sensors.

In other results of the study, Leti demonstrated for the first time that SRAM cell characteristics can be controlled by light illumination. Leti also said that with capacitive coupling, light absorption in the diode integrated below the BOX leads to light-induced voltage-threshold (VT) shift of the transistor above the BOX, which means that forward optical back-biasing and reverse optical back-biasing are possible, depending on the diode polarity. In addition, the response of the system is logarithmic with light illumination, similar to the response of human vision.

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One thought on “Leti says FD-SOI light-sensing technique can make transistors far more sensitive to visible light

  1. marvin keith

    Early (30+ years ago) GE epoxy potted transistors used a tan colored resin. When we used these in linear amplifier applications they had enough sensitivity to pick up light energizing from the overhear fluorescent lighting. A mystery at first because the periodic nature of the noise was obviously hum but it was unexpected at that entry point. A super tech named Eugene Kidd deduced it by turning off the overhead lights and using a flashlight on and off the transistor. GE quickly changed to an opaque resin. Problem solved.

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