Novel approach to surface processing for improving the efficiency of CdZnTe detectors

A. Hossain, A. E. Bolotnikov, G. S. Camarda, Y. Cui, D. Jones, J. Hall, Kihyun Kim, J. Mwathi, X. Tong, G. Yang, R. B. James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


We emphasize an improvement of the surface processing procedures for cadmium zinc telluride (CZT) detectors, which is one of the principal problems limiting the technology. A rough surface enhances the leakage current into the medium, creating additional trapping centers and thereby degrading the detector's performance. Mechanical polishing followed by chemical treatment yields smoother surfaces as required, but chemical treatment, especially with bromine-based solutions, induces unwanted surface features, increases the surface conductivity, and generates chemical species that alter the material's surface and interfacial properties. It is essential to avoid such adverse consequences of surface etching in the manufacturing of highly efficient radiation detectors. We approached the problem of processing the crystals' surfaces by using two different solutions (a low-concentration bromine-based etchant mixture in conjunction with a surface-passivation reagent and a non-bromine-based etchant). The chemomechanical treatment yielded smooth nonconductive surfaces with fewer detrimental features, therefore allowing us to fabricate better devices. We determined the surface roughness using atomic force microscopy and optical profilometry (OP). We analyzed the surface structure, orientations of the crystals, and formation of chemical species by x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy techniques and delineated their effects on the devices' electrical properties and performance. Our experimental data revealed that our new chemical etching process produced nonconductive surfaces with fewer surface defects and so improved the detectors' charge transport and efficiency. We detail the results of our new etchants and compare them with those for conventional Br-methanol etchants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2771-2777
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Electronic Materials
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1


  • CdZnTe
  • chemical etchants
  • spectral response
  • surface leakage current
  • surface processing
  • surface roughness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Materials Chemistry


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