This paper discusses the physical mechanism of the operation and construction of new electromagnetic-radiation detectors based on the emission of a hot-electron gas, which use the effect of variation of the thermionic-emission current in a semiconductor diode with a Schottky barrier when the absorbed radiation energy is directly transferred to the electron-gas system in the quasi-metallic layer of the barrier. The fact that the time to establish equilibrium inside the electron-gas system differs from the time to establish an equilibrium state between the electron gas and the phonon system makes it possible to increase the temperature of the electron gas and accordingly the thermionic-emission current without changing the temperature of the crystal lattice of the detector. It becomes possible in this case to detect radiation with quantum energy less than the height of the potential barrier of the Schottky diode and to significantly increase the limiting wavelength of the detector. Taking into account the fact that no thermal insulation of these detectors from the substrate is required, an example is given of how to construct the topological layout of a photodetector array.
© 2008 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article