We investigated the electronic levels of defects introduced in 4H-SiC α-particle detectors by irradiation with 1 MeV neutrons up to a fluence equal to 8x1015 n/cm2. As well, we investigated their effect on the detector radiation hardness. This study was carried out by deep level transient spectroscopy (DLTS) and photo-induced current transient spectroscopy (PICTS). As the irradiation level approaches fluences in the order of 1015 n/cm2, the material behaves as highly resistive due to a very great compensation effect but the diodes are still able to detect with a acceptably good charge collection efficiency (CCE) equal to 80%. By further increasing fluence, CCE decreases reaching the value of ≈ 20% at fluence of 8x1015 n/cm2.
The dominant peaks in the PICTS spectra occur in the temperature range [400, 700] K. Enthalpy, capture cross-section and order of magnitude of the density of such deep levels were calculated. In the above said temperature range the deep levels associated to the radiation induced defects play the key role in the degradation of the CCE. Two deep levels at Et = 1.18 eV and Et = 1.50 eV are likely to be responsible of such dramatic decrease of the charge collection efficiency. These levels were reasonably associated to an elementary defect involving a carbon vacancy and to a defect complex involving a carbon and a silicon vacancy, respectively.