Identifying semiconductors by d.c. ionization conductivity
We describe a method for identifying semiconductor radiation detector materials based on the mobility of internally generated electrons and holes. It was designed for the early stages of exploration, when samples are not available as single crystals, but as crystalline powders. Samples are confined under pressure in an electric field and the increase in current resulting from exposure to a high-intensity source of 60Co gamma rays (i.e. the ionization current) is measured. We find that for known semiconductors the d.c. ionization current depends on voltage according to the Hecht equation, and for known insulators the d.c. ionization current is below our detection limits. This shows that the method can identify semiconductors in spite of significant carrier trapping. Using this method, we have determined that BiOI, PbIF, BiPbO2Cl, BiPbO2Br, BiPbO2I, Bi2GdO4Cl, Pb3O2I2, and Pb5O4I2 are semiconductors.