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The performance of metal–insulator–semiconductor (MIS) type tunneling diodes based on ZnO nanostructures is investigated through modeling. The framework used in this work is the Schrödinger equation with an effective-mass approximation. The working mechanism of the MIS type tunneling diode is investigated by examining the electron density, electric field, electrostatic potential, and conduction band edge of the device. We show that a valley in the electrostatic potential is formed at the ZnO/MgO interface, which induces an energy barrier at the ZnO side of this interface. Therefore, electrons need to overcome two barriers: the high and narrow MgO barrier, and the barrier from the depletion region induced at the ZnO side of the ZnO/MgO interface. As the MgO layer becomes thicker, the valley in electrostatic potential becomes deeper. At the same time, the barrier induced at the ZnO/MgO interface becomes higher and wider. This leads to a fast decrease in the current passing through the MIS diode. We optimize the thickness of the MgO insulating layer, sandwiched between a ZnO film (in this work we use a single ZnO nanowire) and a metal contact, to achieve maximum performance of the diode, in terms of rectification ratio. An optimal MgO layer thickness of 1.5 nm is found to yield the highest rectification ratio, of approximately 169 times that of a conventional metal–semiconductor–metal Schottky diode. These simulated results can be useful in the design and optimization of ZnO nanodevices, such as light emitting diodes and UV photodetectors.

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Publication history

Received: 23 November 2015
Revised: 16 January 2016
Accepted: 19 January 2016
Published: 29 September 2016
Issue date: May 2016

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© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (No. 2013CB932602), the Program of Introducing Talents of Discipline to Universities (No. B14003), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 51572021, 51527802, and 51232001), Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission, and the Fundamental Research Funds for Central Universities. M. A. M. and Y. Z. would also like to acknowledge the support of the Newton International Research Collaboration Programme (No. NRCP/1415/129).

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Email: nanores@tup.tsinghua.edu.cn

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