Hg1−xCdxTe or mercury cadmium telluride (also cadmium mercury telluride, MCT, MerCad Telluride, MerCadTel, MerCaT or CMT) is a chemical compound of cadmium telluride (CdTe) and mercury telluride (HgTe) with a tunable bandgap spanning the shortwave infrared to the very long wave infrared regions. The amount of cadmium (Cd) in the alloy can be chosen so as to tune the optical absorption of the material to the desired infrared wavelength. CdTe is a semiconductor with a bandgap of approximately 1.5 electronvolts (eV) at room temperature. HgTe is a semimetal, which means that its bandgap energy is zero. Mixing these two substances allows one to obtain any bandgap between 0 and 1.5 eV.
Hg1−xCdxTe has a zincblende structure with two interpenetrating face-centered cubic lattices offset by (1/4,1/4,1/4)ao in the primitive cell. The cations Cd and Hg are statistically mixed on the yellow sublattice while the Te anions form the grey sublattice in the image.
The electron mobility of HgCdTe with a large Hg content is very high. Among common semiconductors used for infrared detection, only InSb and InAs surpass electron mobility of HgCdTe at room temperature. At 80 K, the electron mobility of Hg0.8Cd0.2Te can be several hundred thousand cm2/(V·s). Electrons also have a long ballistic length at this temperature; their mean free path can be several micrometres.
The intrinsic carrier concentration is given by 
where k is Boltzmann's constant, q is the elementary electric charge, t is the material temperature, x is the percentage of cadmium concentration, and Eg is the bandgap given by 
Using the relationship , where λ is in µm and Eg. is in electron volts, one can also obtain the cutoff wavelength as a function of x and t:
Two types of Auger recombination affect HgCdTe: Auger 1 and Auger 7 recombination. Auger 1 recombination involves two electrons and one hole, where an electron and a hole combine and the remaining electron receives energy equal to or greater than the band gap. Auger 7 recombination is similar to Auger 1, but involves one electron and two holes.
The Auger 1 minority carrier lifetime for intrinsic (undoped) HgCdTe is given by 
where FF is the overlap integral (approximately 0.221).
The Auger 1 minority carrier lifetime for doped HgCdTe is given by 
where n is the equilibrium electron concentration.
The Auger 7 minority carrier lifetime for intrinsic HgCdTe is approximately 10 times longer than the Auger 1 minority carrier lifetime:
The Auger 7 minority carrier lifetime for doped HgCdTe is given by
The total contribution of Auger 1 and Auger 7 recombination to the minority carrier lifetime is computed as
HgCdTe is a soft material due to the weak bonds Hg forms with tellurium. It is a softer material than any common III-V semiconductor. The Mohs hardness of HgTe is 1.9, CdTe is 2.9 and Hg0.5Cd0.5Te is 4. The hardness of lead salts is lower still.
The thermal conductivity of HgCdTe is low; at low cadmium concentrations it is as low as 0.2 W·K−1m−1. This means that it is unsuitable for high power devices. Although infrared light-emitting diodes and lasers have been made in HgCdTe, they must be operated cold to be efficient. The specific heat capacity is 150 J·kg−1K−1. 
HgCdTe is transparent in the infrared at photon energies below the energy gap. The refractive index is high, reaching nearly 4 for HgCdTe with high Hg content.
HgCdTe is the only common material that can detect infrared radiation in both of the accessible atmospheric windows. These are from 3 to 5 µm (the mid-wave infrared window, abbreviated MWIR) and from 8 to 12 µm (the long-wave window, LWIR). Detection in the MWIR and LWIR windows is obtained using 30% [(Hg0.7Cd0.3)Te] and 20% [(Hg0.8Cd0.2)Te] cadmium respectively. HgCdTe can also detect in the short wave infrared SWIR atmospheric windows of 2.2 to 2.4 µm and 1.5 to 1.8 µm.
HgCdTe is a common material in photodetectors of Fourier transform infrared spectrometers. This is because of the large spectral range of HgCdTe detectors and also the high quantum efficiency. It is also found in military field, remote sensing and infrared astronomy research. Military technology has depended on HgCdTe for night vision. In particular, the US air force makes extensive use of HgCdTe on all aircraft, and to equip airborne smart bombs. A variety of heat-seeking missiles are also equipped with HgCdTe detectors. HgCdTe detector arrays can also be found at most of the worlds major research telescopes including several satellites. Many HgCdTe detectors (such as Hawaii and NICMOS detectors) are named after the astronomical observatories or instruments for which they were originally developed.
The main limitation of LWIR HgCdTe-based detectors is that they need cooling to temperatures near that of liquid nitrogen (77K), to reduce noise due to thermally excited current carriers (see cooled infrared camera). MWIR HgCdTe cameras can be operated at temperatures accessible to thermoelectric coolers with a small performance penalty. Hence, HgCdTe detectors are relatively heavy compared to bolometers and require maintenance. On the other side, HgCdTe enjoys much higher speed of detection (frame rate) and is significantly more sensitive than some of its more economical competitors.
HgCdTe can be used as a heterodyne detector, in which the interference between a local source and returned laser light is detected. In this case it can detect sources such as CO2 lasers. In heterodyne detection mode HgCdTe can be uncooled, although greater sensitivity is achieved by cooling. Photodiodes, photoconductors or photoelectromagnetic (PEM) modes can be used. A bandwidth well in excess of 1 GHz can be achieved with photodiode detectors.
The main competitors of HgCdTe are less sensitive Si-based bolometers (see uncooled infrared camera), InSb and photon-counting superconducting tunnel junction (STJ) arrays. Quantum well infrared photodetectors (QWIP), manufactured from III-V semiconductor materials such as GaAs and AlGaAs, are another possible alternative, although their theoretical performance limits are inferior to HgCdTe arrays at comparable temperatures and they require the use of complicated reflection/diffraction gratings to overcome certain polarization exclusion effects which impact array responsivity. In the future, the primary competitor to HgCdTe detectors may emerge in the form of Quantum Dot Infrared Photodetectors (QDIP), based on either a colloidal or type-II superlattice structure. Unique 3-D quantum confinement effects, combined with the unipolar (non-exciton based photoelectric behavior) nature of quantum dots could allow comparable performance to HgCdTe at significantly higher operating temperatures. Initial laboratory work has shown promising results in this regard and QDIPs may be one of the first significant nanotechnology products to emerge.
In HgCdTe, detection occurs when an infrared photon of sufficient energy kicks an electron from the valence band to the conduction band. Such an electron is collected by a suitable external readout integrated circuits (ROIC) and transformed into an electric signal. The physical mating of the HgCdTe detector array to the ROIC is often referred to as a "focal plane array".
In contrast, in a bolometer, light heats up a tiny piece of material. The temperature change of the bolometer results in a change in resistance which is measured and transformed into an electric signal.
Mercury zinc telluride has better chemical, thermal, and mechanical stability characteristics than HgCdTe. It has a steeper change of energy gap with mercury composition than HgCdTe, making compositional control harder.
The first large scale growth method was bulk recrystallization of a liquid melt. This was the main growth method from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.
Highly pure and crystalline HgCdTe is fabricated by epitaxy on either CdTe or CdZnTe substrates. CdZnTe is a compound semiconductor, the lattice parameter of which can be exactly matched to that of HgCdTe. This eliminates most defects from the epilayer of HgCdTe. CdTe was developed as an alternative substrate in the '90s. It is not lattice-matched to HgCdTe, but is much cheaper, as it can be grown by epitaxy on silicon (Si) or germanium (Ge) substrates.
Liquid phase epitaxy (LPE), in which a CdZnTe substrate is lowered and spinning on top of the surface of a slowly cooling liquid HgCdTe melt. This gives the best results in terms of crystalline quality, and is still a common technique of choice for industrial production.
In recent years, molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) has become widespread because of its ability to stack up layers of different alloy composition. This allows simultaneous detection at several wavelengths. Furthermore, MBE, and also MOVPE, allow growth on large area substrates such as CdTe on Si or Ge, whereas LPE does not allow such substrates to be used.
Mercury Cadmium Telluride is known to be a toxic material, with additional danger from the high vapor pressure of mercury at the material's melting point; in spite of this, it continues to be developed and used in its applications. 
In solid state physics, a particle's effective mass is the mass that it seems to have when responding to forces, or the mass that it seems to have when interacting with other identical particles in a thermal distribution. One of the results from the band theory of solids is that the movement of particles in a periodic potential, over long distances larger than the lattice spacing, can be very different from their motion in a vacuum. The effective mass is a quantity that is used to simplify band structures by modeling the behavior of a free particle with that mass. For some purposes and some materials, the effective mass can be considered to be a simple constant of a material. In general, however, the value of effective mass depends on the purpose for which it is used, and can vary depending on a number of factors.
The Drude model of electrical conduction was proposed in 1900 by Paul Drude to explain the transport properties of electrons in materials. Basically, Ohm's law was well established and stated that the current J and voltage V driving the current are related to the resistance R of the material. The inverse of the resistance is known as the conductance. When we consider a metal of unit length and unit cross sectional area, the conductance is known as the conductivity, which is the inverse of resistivity. The Drude model attempts to explain the resistivity of a conductor in terms of the scattering of electrons by the relatively immobile ions in the metal that act like obstructions to the flow of electrons.
A quantum well is a potential well with only discrete energy values.
Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, sometimes called energy dispersive X-ray analysis or energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDXMA), is an analytical technique used for the elemental analysis or chemical characterization of a sample. It relies on an interaction of some source of X-ray excitation and a sample. Its characterization capabilities are due in large part to the fundamental principle that each element has a unique atomic structure allowing a unique set of peaks on its electromagnetic emission spectrum. The peak positions are predicted by the Moseley's law with accuracy much better than experimental resolution of a typical EDX instrument.
Cadmium arsenide (Cd3As2) is an inorganic semimetal in the II-V family. It exhibits the Nernst effect.
In solid-state physics, the electron mobility characterises how quickly an electron can move through a metal or semiconductor when pulled by an electric field. There is an analogous quantity for holes, called hole mobility. The term carrier mobility refers in general to both electron and hole mobility.
The Lawson criterion is a figure of merit used in nuclear fusion research. It compares the rate of energy being generated by fusion reactions within the fusion fuel to the rate of energy losses to the environment. When the rate of production is higher than the rate of loss, the system will produce net energy. If enough of that energy is captured by the fuel, the system will become self-sustaining and is said to be ignited.
Photodetectors, also called photosensors, are sensors of light or other electromagnetic radiation. There is a wide variety of photodetectors which may be classified by mechanism of detection, such as photoelectric or photochemical effects, or by various performance metrics, such as spectral response. Semiconductor-based photodetectors typically photo detector have a p–n junction that converts light photons into current. The absorbed photons make electron–hole pairs in the depletion region. Photodiodes and photo transistors are a few examples of photo detectors. Solar cells convert some of the light energy absorbed into electrical energy.
In the solid-state physics of semiconductors, carrier generation and carrier recombination are processes by which mobile charge carriers are created and eliminated. Carrier generation and recombination processes are fundamental to the operation of many optoelectronic semiconductor devices, such as photodiodes, light-emitting diodes and laser diodes. They are also critical to a full analysis of p-n junction devices such as bipolar junction transistors and p-n junction diodes.
Cadmium telluride (CdTe) is a stable crystalline compound formed from cadmium and tellurium. It is mainly used as the semiconducting material in cadmium telluride photovoltaics and an infrared optical window. It is usually sandwiched with cadmium sulfide to form a p–n junction solar PV cell.
Cadmium zinc telluride, (CdZnTe) or CZT, is a compound of cadmium, zinc and tellurium or, more strictly speaking, an alloy of cadmium telluride and zinc telluride. A direct bandgap semiconductor, it is used in a variety of applications, including semiconductor radiation detectors, photorefractive gratings, electro-optic modulators, solar cells, and terahertz generation and detection. The band gap varies from approximately 1.4 to 2.2 eV, depending on composition.
Quantum-cascade lasers (QCLs) are semiconductor lasers that emit in the mid- to far-infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum and were first demonstrated by Jérôme Faist, Federico Capasso, Deborah Sivco, Carlo Sirtori, Albert Hutchinson, and Alfred Cho at Bell Laboratories in 1994.
An infrared detector is a detector that reacts to infrared (IR) radiation. The two main types of detectors are thermal and photonic (photodetectors).
Lead selenide (PbSe), or lead(II) selenide, a selenide of lead, is a semiconductor material. It forms cubic crystals of the NaCl structure; it has a direct bandgap of 0.27 eV at room temperature. A grey solid, it is used for manufacture of infrared detectors for thermal imaging. The mineral clausthalite is a naturally occurring lead selenide.
Mercury telluride (HgTe) is a binary chemical compound of mercury and tellurium. It is a semi-metal related to the II-VI group of semiconductor materials. Alternative names are mercuric telluride and mercury(II) telluride.
A definition in semiconductor physics, carrier lifetime is defined as the average time it takes for a minority carrier to recombine. The process through which this is done is typically known as minority carrier recombination.
The quantum spin Hall state is a state of matter proposed to exist in special, two-dimensional semiconductors that have a quantized spin-Hall conductance and a vanishing charge-Hall conductance. The quantum spin Hall state of matter is the cousin of the integer quantum Hall state, and that does not require the application of a large magnetic field. The quantum spin Hall state does not break charge conservation symmetry and spin- conservation symmetry.
Heat transfer physics describes the kinetics of energy storage, transport, and energy transformation by principal energy carriers: phonons, electrons, fluid particles, and photons. Heat is energy stored in temperature-dependent motion of particles including electrons, atomic nuclei, individual atoms, and molecules. Heat is transferred to and from matter by the principal energy carriers. The state of energy stored within matter, or transported by the carriers, is described by a combination of classical and quantum statistical mechanics. The energy is different made (converted) among various carriers. The heat transfer processes are governed by the rates at which various related physical phenomena occur, such as the rate of particle collisions in classical mechanics. These various states and kinetics determine the heat transfer, i.e., the net rate of energy storage or transport. Governing these process from the atomic level to macroscale are the laws of thermodynamics, including conservation of energy.
Lead tin telluride, also referred to as PbSnTe or Pb1−xSnxTe, is a ternary alloy of lead, tin and tellurium, generally made by alloying either tin into lead telluride or lead into tin telluride. It is a IV-VI narrow band gap semiconductor material.
The perturbed γ-γ angular correlation, PAC for short or PAC-Spectroscopy, is a method of nuclear solid-state physics with which magnetic and electric fields in crystal structures can be measured. In doing so, electrical field gradients and the Larmor frequency in magnetic fields as well as dynamic effects are determined. With this very sensitive method, which requires only about 10-1000 billion atoms of a radioactive isotope per measurement, material properties in the local structure, phase transitions, magnetism and diffusion can be investigated. The PAC method is related to nuclear magnetic resonance and the Mössbauer effect, but shows no signal attenuation at very high temperatures. Today only the time-differential perturbed angular correlation (TDPAC) is used.