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The area under the curve gives the total charge flow within Position 10 Avalanche region + – ;;; Current Ionization coefficient ( µ m–1) AVALANCHE DIODES Primary current Total current Time Figure 3. Space–time diagram for carrier multiplication in an avalanche diode like that in Fig. 1. The graph at the bottom shows the flow of primary and secondary current in the diode. Current flows whenever charge is moving within the depletion region. Holes move up toward the p side of the diode, electrons move down toward the n side.

G. Smith and S. R. Forrest, Sensitivity of avalanche photodetector receivers for long wavelength optical communications, Bell Syst. Tech. , 61: 2929, 1982. 40. A. R. , Silicon heterointerface photodetector, Appl. Phys. , 68: 3692–3694, 1996. 41. F. -T. Tsang, and G. F. Williams, Staircase solidstate photomultipliers and avalanche photodiodes with enhanced ionization rates ratio, IEEE Trans. Electron Devices, ED-30: 381, 1983. 42. J. N. Hollenhorst, Ballistic avalanche photodiodes: Ultralow noise avalanche diodes with nearly equal ionization probabilities, Appl.

The rapid increase of current with voltage is referred to as avalanche breakdown. The amplification of the original current is called avalanche multiplication or gain. As the bias approaches a characteristic breakdown voltage, the current will usually rise by many factors of 10, reaching a limit imposed by another mechanism or destroying the device. Several useful semiconductor devices exploit this mechanism to obtain favorable performance. A few of the important types are listed here. p+ Ep n W i – + n+ Electric field Figure 1.

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