Polycrystalline thin films of lead sulphide were deposited on glass substrates by the hot wall technique. The grain size varied from 100 to 500 A by varying the growth rate and the substrate temperature. The grain boundaries are assumed to influence the optoelectronic properties of polycrystalline films by generating potential energy relieves, estimated to reach 0.1 eV. We investigated the influence of the barrier height by introducing impurity atmospheres into the grain boundaries. Oxygen and indium were introduced into the films by diffusion from a gas phase. Conductivity was measured in the 80-300 K range. It rises with increasing temperature in oxygen doped films, indicating that conductivity is a thermal activation process. In the same time the conductivity of In doped PbS films decreases with temperature like in PbS single crystals. Photoconductivity was observed in films annealed in oxygen, which was significant up to room temperature. Carrier lifetime was found to decrease with rising temperature and be larger in films annealed in oxygen.
A model is proposed to explain the optoelectronic behavior of the polycrystalline films. It is proposed that charge accumulation near grain boundaries set up potential barriers for free carriers. The barriers increase by oxygen and decreases by indium doping. The charge carriers generated by an illumination become spatially separated at grain boundaries. This separation retards their recombination and increases their lifetime, giving rise to persistent photoconductivity and potential high photosensitivity.
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Abarbanel, C., Shneck, R., Dashevsky, Z. et al. The Development of Infrared Photosensitive Material Based on Polycrystalline PbS Films. MRS Online Proceedings Library 607, 353 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-607-353