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  1. Abstract

    For the first time, time-dependent internal charge amplification through impact ionization has been observed in a planar germanium (Ge) detector operated at cryogenic temperature. In a time period of 30 and 45 min after applying a bias voltage, the charge energy corresponding to a baseline of the 59.54 keV$$\gamma $$γrays from a$$^{241}$$241Am source is amplified for a short period of time and then decreases back to the baseline. The amplification of charge energy depends strongly on the applied positive bias voltage with drifting holes across the detector. No such phenomenon is visible with drifting electrons across the detector. We find that the observed charge amplification is dictated by the impact ionization of charged states, which has a strong correlation with impurity level and applied electric field. We analyze the dominant physics mechanisms that are responsible for the creation and the impact ionization of charged states. Our analysis suggests that the appropriate level of impurity in a Ge detector can enhance charge yield through the impact ionization of charged states to achieve extremely low-energy detection threshold (< 10 meV) for MeV-scale dark matter searches if the charge amplification can be stabilized.

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  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  3. Abstract We explore the possibility to use advanced germanium (Ge) detectors as a low-energy solar neutrino observatory by means of neutrino-nucleus elastic scattering. A Ge detector utilizing internal charge amplification for the charge carriers created by the ionization of impurities is a novel technology with experimental sensitivity for detecting low-energy solar neutrinos. Ge internal charge amplification (GeICA) detectors will amplify the charge carriers induced by neutrino interacting with Ge atoms through the emission of phonons. It is those phonons that will create charge carriers through the ionization of impurities to achieve an extremely low energy threshold of ∼0.01 eV. We demonstrate the phonon absorption, excitation, and ionization probability of impurities in a Ge detector with impurity levels of 3 × 10 10 cm −3 , 9 × 10 10 cm −3 , and 2 × 10 11 cm −3 . We present the sensitivity of such a Ge experiment for detecting solar neutrinos in the low-energy region. We show that, if GeICA technology becomes available, then a new opportunity arises to observe pp and 7 Be solar neutrinos. Such a novel detector with only 1 kg of high-purity Ge will give ∼10 events per year for pp neutrinos and ∼5 events per year for 7 Be neutrinos with a detection energy threshold of 0.01 eV. 
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  4. By studying charge trapping in germanium detectors operating at temperatures below 10 K, we demonstrate for the first time that the formation of cluster dipole states from residual impurities is responsible for charge trapping. Two planar detectors with different impurity levels and types are used in this study. When drifting the localized charge carriers created by α particles from the top surface across a detector at a lower bias voltage, significant charge trapping is observed when compared to operating at a higher bias voltage. The amount of charge trapping shows a strong dependence on the type of charge carriers. Electrons are trapped more than holes in a p-type detector, while holes are trapped more than electrons in an n-type detector. When both electrons and holes are drifted simultaneously using the widespread charge carriers created by γ rays inside the detector, the amount of charge trapping shows no dependence on the polarity of bias voltage. 
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  5. Abstract The detection of low-energy deposition in the range of sub-eV through ionization using germanium (Ge) with a bandgap of $$\sim $$ ∼ 0.7 eV requires internal amplification of the charge signal. This can be achieved through high electric field that accelerates charge carriers, which can then generate more charge carriers. The minimum electric field required to generate internal charge amplification is derived for different temperatures. We report the development of a planar point contact Ge detector in terms of its fabrication and the measurements of its leakage current and capacitance as a function of applied bias voltage. With the determination of the measured depletion voltage, the field distribution is calculated using GeFiCa, which predicts that the required electric field for internal charge amplification can be achieved in proximity to the point contact. The energy response to an Am-241 source is characterized and discussed. We conclude that such a detector with internal charge amplification can be used to search for low-mass dark matter. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    Abstract For the first time, electrical conduction mechanisms in the disordered material system is experimentally studied for p-type amorphous germanium (a-Ge) used for high-purity Ge detector contacts. The localization length and the hopping parameters in a-Ge are determined using the surface leakage current measured from three high-purity planar Ge detectors. The temperature dependent hopping distance and hopping energy are obtained for a-Ge fabricated as the electrical contact materials for high-purity Ge planar detectors. As a result, we find that the hopping energy in a-Ge increases as temperature increases while the hopping distance in a-Ge decreases as temperature increases. The localization length of a-Ge is on the order of $$2.13^{-0.05}_{+0.07}\mathrm{{A}}^\circ $$ 2 . 13 + 0.07 - 0.05 A ∘ to $$5.07^{-0.83}_{+2.58}\mathrm{{A}}^\circ $$ 5 . 07 + 2.58 - 0.83 A ∘ , depending on the density of states near the Fermi energy level within bandgap. Using these parameters, we predict that the surface leakage current from a Ge detector with a-Ge contacts can be much smaller than one yocto amp (yA) at helium temperature, suitable for rare-event physics searches. 
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