The performance of HgCdTe photodiodes, realized for the purpose of thermal imaging in the 8–12μm atmospheric window, is often limited by traps and by the tunneling mechanism associated with them. This mechanism dominates the leakage current and the dynamic resistance in diodes operated in reverse bias above 1OOmV and at temperatures below 77K. In usual working conditions, namely low reverse bias and a temperature of 77K, the presence of traps and the tunneling mechanism associated with them, degrades the performance of the diodes. Although the diffusion mechanism dominating the leakage current and the dynamic resistance in diodes operated under the above conditions is of major concern, the presence of the traps should not be ignored. The traps result in shorter electron lifetime in the bulk as well as in the generation of 1/f noise, which degrades the device's figures of merit such as NETD. Therefore, a thorough understanding of the trapassisted tunneling mechanism is a prerequisite to studying its impact on the device performance.
In this paper we present a model which describes the connection between the leakage current associated with the traps and the trap characteristics: concentration, energy level and capture cross-section. The validity of the model is confirmed by the good fit between measured and calculated characteristics of the diodes.