Ionized impurity scattering
Ionized impurity scattering is a very important process for
highly doped semiconductors. One of the first mobility models for
this case was proposed by Conwell and Weisskopf . They used the
scattering cross section of an electron in the Coulomb field of
an ionized impurity for an iterative solution of the Boltzmann
transport equation. This yields a modified velocity distribution
which is then used to calcultate the current density in dependence
of the electric field.
Scattering in the Coulomb potential
The figure below illustrates the scattering event in a Coulomb
potential for a point charge. Basically it is a gradual deviation of
the charge carrier trajectory by coulombic interaction with an
The theory of scattering of a charge in a Coulomb field was worked
out by Rutherford for the case of a
particles scattered at a thin gold foil. He obtained a formula
for the probability of scattering into an angle
q, called differential cross section:
Here, Z is the charge of the scattering center and E is
the energy of the scattered particle. The distance between
the axis of the incident electron and the scattering center is called
impact parameter a and enters into the angle q.
The scattering event is rotationally invariant about this axis and also
independent of the charge of the scattering center as illustrated in
the figure figure below.
This property is particularly important for compensated semiconductors; as
the carriers are scattered at all ionized impurities, donors and
acceptors alike, the number of scattering centers may be much higher
than the net carrier density.
The collision integral
The next step in the determination of the mobility is the calculation of the
collision integral. Unfortunately, the integral over the differential cross section
of Rutherford is divergent because of the long range of the Coulomb potential.
Conwell and Weiskopf suggested to truncate the potential at a value which
corresponds to half the distance between two impurities. Intuitively this seems
a valid approach because the deflection from a straight path will be governed by
the closer of two given impurities rather than those further away.
The average distance
between two impurites ist just the cube root of the impurity density, and half
of this value is then taken as the maximum for scattering parameter a.
Correspondingly, there is a minimum scattering angle
qmin which is taken as limit for
An different argument was was suggested by Brooks and Herring . Their
discussuion makes use of an effect that is very common in the treatment of
plasmas; free charge carriers are able to accumulte in the vicinity of
attractive potentials, or they move away from repellent ones. Effectively
this results in a redistribution of the charge density and
shields the range of the potential.
The description takes the form of the well known Yukawa potential and
involves a screening radius rs.
For dilute electron gases like in non-degenerate semiconductors
the screening radius is given by the expression of Debye and
Hückel. For highly doped semiconductors we must use the
result of Thomas and Fermi.
The Yukawa potential results in a modified scattering cross section,
and the collision term is integrable.
The current density integral
After the evaluation of the collision integrals there is one more step to take,
we must calculate another integral for the current density. For both cases we must
integrate over a fraction with a log-term in the denominator. Usually this
term is evaluated only at the maximum of the remaining integrand because the log
is a slowly varying function.
The resulting mobilities of these two approaches have the same pre-factor which
shows a temperature dependence with an exponent of 3/2.
It is multiplied by (truncation)
where the quantity x is given by:
The considerations have also been applied to degenerate semiconductors, the result
for the truncated potential was given by Shockley , the screened case was
considered by Dingle . Note that this result is independent of the temperature.
multiplied by (truncation):
In case of shielding the factor involving the logarithm is the of the same
form as above, but x is now given by:
Numerical differences between the different results of truncation and
screening were discussed by Dingle , an attempt to reconcile the
theories by third body interactions was proposed by Ridley .
Experimental data about ionized impurity scattering in doped ZnO can
be found in a publication of Ellmer .
 E. Conwell and V. F. Weisskopf, Phys. Rev. 77, 388, (1950)
 H. Brooks, Adv. Elect. Electron Phys. 7, 85, (1955)
 W. Schockley, Electrons and Holes in Semiconductors (1950)
 R. B. Dingle, Phil. Mag. 47, 831, (1982)
 B. K. Ridley, J. Phys. C: Solid State Phys. 10, 1589 (1977)
 K. Ellmer, J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 34, 3097 (2001)