Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Electrical Engineering


Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Krishna C Mandal


In today's world, nuclear radiation is seeing more and more use by humanity as time goes on. Nuclear power plants are being built to supply humanity's energy needs, nuclear medical imaging is becoming more popular for diagnosing cancer and other diseases, and control of weapons-grade nuclear materials is becoming more and more important for national security. All of these needs require high-performance nuclear radiation detectors which can accurately measure the type and amount of radiation being used. However, most current radiation detection materials available commercially require extensive cooling, or simply do not function adequately for high-energy gamma-ray emitting nuclear materials such as uranium and plutonium.

One of the most promising semiconductor materials being considered to create a convenient, field-deployable nuclear detector is cadmium zinc telluride (CdZnTe, or CZT). CZT is a ternary semiconductor compound which can detect high-energy gamma-rays at room temperature. It offers high resistivity (10^10 Ohm-cm), a high band gap (1.55 eV), and good electron transport properties, all of which are required for a nuclear radiation detector. However, one significant issue with CZT is that there is considerable difficulty in growing large, homogeneous, defect-free single crystals of CZT. This significantly increases the cost of producing CZT detectors, making CZT less than ideal for mass-production. Furthermore, CZT suffers from poor hole transport properties, which creates significant problems when using it as a high-energy gamma-ray detector.

In this dissertation, a comprehensive investigation is undertaken using a successful growth method for CZT developed at the University of South Carolina. This method, called the solvent-growth technique, reduces the complexity required to grow detector-grade CZT single crystals. It utilizes a lower growth temperature than traditional growth methods by using Te as a solvent, while maintaining the advantages of crystal homogeneity of other modern CZT growth techniques. However, information about crystals grown with this method has not been undertaken in a comprehensive way thus far.

In this work, Cd(0.9)Zn(0.1)Te is grown using the solvent-growth method using zone-refined precursor materials loaded into carbon-coated quartz ampoules. Ampoules were sealed and crystal growth was performed using crystal growth furnaces built in-house at USC. Ingots 1-2" in diameter produced using the solvent-growth method were wafered, processed, and polished for characterization. Semiconductor characterization is performed on the CZT crystals to determine band gap, elemental stoichiometry, and electrical resistivity. Surface modification studies were undertaken to determine if surface leakage current can be reduced using sulfur passivation. XPS studies were used to confirm the effects of passivation on the surface states, and electrical characterization was performed to measure the effects of passivation on the CZT crystals. Deep-level and surface defect studies were conducted on the CZT samples to determine the type and intensity of defects present in the crystals which may affect detector performance. Finally, nuclear detectors were fabricated and characterized using analog and digital radiation detection systems to measure their performance and energy resolution.