General atomistic approach for modeling metal-semiconductor interfaces using density functional theory and nonequilibrium Green's function

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Metal-semiconductor contacts are a pillar of modern semiconductor technology. Historically, their microscopic understanding has been hampered by the inability of traditional analytical and numerical methods to fully capture the complex physics governing their operating principles. Here we introduce an atomistic approach based on density functional theory and nonequilibrium Green's function, which includes all the relevant ingredients required to model realistic metal-semiconductor interfaces and allows for a direct comparison between theory and experiments via I-Vbias curve simulations. We apply this method to characterize an Ag/Si interface relevant for photovoltaic applications and study the rectifying-to-Ohmic transition as a function of the semiconductor doping. We also demonstrate that the standard “activation energy” method for the analysis of I-Vbias data might be inaccurate for nonideal interfaces as it neglects electron tunneling, and that finite-size atomistic models have problems in describing these interfaces in the presence of doping due to a poor representation of space-charge effects. Conversely, the present method deals effectively with both issues, thus representing a valid alternative to conventional procedures for the accurate characterization of metal-semiconductor interfaces.
Original languageEnglish
Article number155302
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number15
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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©2016 American Physical Society

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