Impact ionization rates for electrons and holes in three semiconductors with particular band structure characteristics are examined to determine underlying factors influencing their qualitative behavior. The applicability of the constant matrix element approximation is investigated, and found to be good for the indirect gap material studied, but overestimates threshold softness in the direct gap materials. The effect that final states in the Γ valley have in influencing characteristics of the rate in the direct gap materials is investigated, and it is found that they play a significantly greater role than the low density of Γ valley states would suggest. The role of threshold anisotropy in affecting threshold softness is examined, and it is concluded that it plays only a small part, and that softness is controlled mainly by the slow increase in available phase space as the threshold energy is exceeded
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