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Title: Enhancing the graphene photocurrent using surface plasmons and a p-n junction

The recently proposed concept of graphene photodetectors offers remarkable properties such as unprecedented compactness, ultrabroadband detection, and an ultrafast response speed. However, owing to the low optical absorption of pristine monolayer graphene, the intrinsically low responsivity of graphene photodetectors significantly hinders the development of practical devices. To address this issue, numerous efforts have thus far been made to enhance the light–graphene interaction using plasmonic structures. These approaches, however, can be significantly advanced by leveraging the other critical aspect of graphene photoresponsivity enhancement—electrical junction control. It has been reported that the dominant photocarrier generation mechanism in graphene is the photothermoelectric (PTE) effect. Thus, the two energy conversion mechanisms involved in the graphene photodetection process are light-to-heat and heat-to-electricity conversions. In this work, we propose a meticulously designed device architecture to simultaneously enhance the two conversion efficiencies. Specifically, a gap plasmon structure is used to absorb a major portion of the incident light to induce localized heating, and a pair of split gates is used to produce a p-n junction in graphene to augment the PTE current generation. The gap plasmon structure and the split gates are designed to share common key components so that the proposed device architecture concurrently realizes more » both optical and electrical enhancements. We experimentally demonstrate the dominance of the PTE effect in graphene photocurrent generation and observe a 25-fold increase in the generated photocurrent compared to the un-enhanced cases. While further photocurrent enhancement can be achieved by applying a DC bias, the proposed device concept shows vast potential for practical applications.

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Light: Science & Applications
Nature Publishing Group
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National Science Foundation
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