Axial GaAs nanowire p-n diodes, possibly one of the core elements of future nanowire solar cells and light emitters, were grown via the Au-assisted vapor-liquid-solid mode, contacted by electron beam lithography, and investigated using electron beam induced current measurements. The minority carrier diffusion lengths and dynamics of both, electrons and holes, were determined directly at the vicinity of the p-n junction. The generated photocurrent shows an exponential decay on both sides of the junction and the extracted diffusion lengths are about 1 order of magnitude lower compared to bulk material due to surface recombination. Moreover, the observed strong diameter-dependence is well in line with the surface-to-volume ratio of semiconductor nanowires. Estimating the surface recombination velocities clearly indicates a nonabrupt p-n junction, which is in essential agreement with the model of delayed dopant incorporation in the Au-assisted vapor-liquid-solid mechanism. Surface passivation using ammonium sulfide effectively reduces the surface recombination and thus leads to higher minority carrier diffusion lengths.
© 2012 American Chemical Society