As a semiconductor-based electrochemical sensor, the light-addressable potentiometric sensor (LAPS) can realize two dimensional visualization of (bio-)chemical reactions at the sensor surface addressed by localized illumination. Thanks to this imaging capability, various applications in biochemical and biomedical fields are expected, for which the spatial resolution is critically significant. In this study, therefore, the spatial resolution of the LAPS was investigated in detail based on the device simulation. By calculating the spatiotemporal change of the distributions of electrons and holes inside the semiconductor layer in response to a modulated illumination, the photocurrent response as well as the spatial resolution was obtained as a function of various parameters such as the thickness of the Si substrate, the doping concentration, the wavelength and the intensity of illumination. The simulation results verified that both thinning the semiconductor substrate and increasing the doping concentration could improve the spatial resolution, which were in good agreement with known experimental results and theoretical analysis. More importantly, new findings of interests were also obtained. As for the dependence on the wavelength of illumination, it was found that the known dependence was not always the case. When the Si substrate was thick, a longer wavelength resulted in a higher spatial resolution which was known by experiments. When the Si substrate was thin, however, a longer wavelength of light resulted in a lower spatial resolution. This finding was explained as an effect of raised concentration of carriers, which reduced the thickness of the space charge region. The device simulation was found to be helpful to understand the relationship between the spatial resolution and device parameters, to understand the physics behind it, and to optimize the device structure and measurement conditions for realizing higher performance of chemical imaging systems.
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