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Gunn Diodes

J. B. Gunn, "Microwave Oscillation of Current in III-V Semiconductors", Solid State Commun., 1 88 (1963) In 1960s GaAs was a new emerging semiconductor material John Gunn research objective was to study the ohmic contacts to GaAs

Metal n-type GaAs Metal

Metal n-type GaAs I Metal

V 5V GaAs sample I-V characteristic in Gunn experiments

Metal n-type GaAs I Metal

V 15V GaAs sample I-V characteristic in Gunn experiments

Metal n-type GaAs I Metal

V 30V GaAs sample I-V characteristic in Gunn experiments

20 16 Current (mA) 12

jp = qnovp

js = qnovs
8 4 0 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 Time (ps)

Short-pulse current waveform in Gunn experiment

Physical mechanism of the Gunn effect

GaAs
= 0.85 m 2 /Vs

1.5

0.5

= 0.5 m /Vs

Si
2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Electric field (kV/cm)

Electron drift velocity Electric field dependence in GaAs

Current voltage characteristic of GaAs sample in strong electric fields

I = q n v(F) Area
Since F = V/L, one can expect that I-V characteristic would be similar in shape to the v(F) curve
2 2

= 0.85 m /Vs

= 0.85 m /Vs

Current

1.5

1.5

0.5

= 0.5 m 2 /Vs

0.5

= 0.5 m 2 /Vs

10

12

14

10

12

14

Electric field (kV/cm)

Electric field (kV/cm) Voltage

Such an assumption is wrong.

Space charge instability in semiconductors with negative differential mobility (NDM)


2

= 0.85 m /Vs
1.5

0.5

= 0.5 m /Vs

4 FC

10

12

14

Electric field (kV/cm)


In GaAs, at electric fields exceeding the critical value of FC 3.2 kV/cm the differential mobility is negative. When the field exceeds FC and further increases, the electron drift velocity decreases.

Space charge instability in semiconductors with NDM

v vm F F Fc Initially uniform electric field and concentration distribution in the sample. n v

+
F0 Fc x

v0 = vm x

n0 = N D x

v vm F F Fc v

+
F0 Fc x

v0 = vm x

F n ND = =q 0 0 x

n0 = N D x

v vm F F Fc v

+
F0 Fc x

v0 = vm x

n n0 = N D x

v vm F F Fc v

+
F0 Fc x

v0 = vm x

n n0 = N D x

v vm vs F Fc v F

+
F0 Fc x

v0 = vm vs High-field, or Gunn domain n n0 = N D x x

v vm vs F Fc v F

+
F0 Fc x

v0 = vm vs x

n n0 = N D x

v vm vs F Fc v F

+
F0 Fc x

v0 = vm vs x

n n0 = N D x

Current time dependence in the sample with high-filed domain

v vm vs F Fc v When the domain is moving between the cathode and anode: F

+
F0 Fc x

Current at the device electrodes:

IV= q n vs

Current time dependence in the sample with high-filed domain

v vm vs F Fc v F

+
F0 Fc x

v0 = vm x

When the domain dissipates in the anode and new domain did not form yet: Current at the device electrodes:

Im = q n vm

Current time dependence in the sample with high-filed domain

20

v
Current (mA)

vm vs

16 12

jp = qnovp

Im = q n vm IV = q n vs

js = qnovs
8 4

Fc

0 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 Time (ps)

Transit-time oscillations in Gunn diodes


20

L
Current (mA)

16 12

jp = qnovp

GD

RL

js = qnovs
8 4 0 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 Time (ps)

Domain transit time: ttr = sample length /domain velocity ttr = L/vs In GaAs, vs 107 cm/s For the sample with the length L = 100 m, ttr = 100 10-4 cm / 107 cm/s = 10-9 s The frequency of transit time oscillations: ftr = 1/ttr = 109 1/s = 1 GHz For L=10 m, ftr = 10 GHz

Transit-time oscillation issues:


20

L
Current (mA)

16 12

jp = qnovp

GD

RL

js = qnovs
8 4 0 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 Time (ps)

1. Operating frequency controlled by the sample length: no tuning, varies from sample to sample, sensitive to sample non-uniformities. 2. Current waveform consist of short pulses with the width << half-a-period: low efficiency

Resonator-controlled oscillations in Gunn diodes

Gunn diode in the LC-resonator 1. Resonator voltage controls the domain nucleation and dissipation. 2. Current waveform pulses are wider as compared to transit-time mode: higher efficiency

Highly-efficient Limited Space charge- Accumulation mode

Approach: Domain formation requires certain time td. If the resonator frequency fr >> (1/td), the domain cannot completely develop The filed and concentration in the sample remain nearly uniform. The dynamic I-V curve of the Gunn diode reproduces the v(F) dependence

Highly-efficient Limited Space charge- Accumulation mode

Achieved frequencies: up to 100 GHz

Kroemer criterion in the Gunn effect


Concentration

Characteristic time of the domain formation can be evaluated by effective RC- circuit charging L time: Ld Rd = = Rd q d n S q n0 o S d

Field

Cathode Distance

Anode

0 td Rd Cd = q n0 | d |

Cdd== C

0 S S Ld L

Domain formation time is equal to td (so-called Maxwell relaxation time); n0 is the equilibrium electron concentration, d is the differential electron mobility. In GaAs, typically, |d| 2000 m2/(Vs)

Kroemer criterion in the Gunn effect


Characteristic domain transit time in the sample of the length L:

Concentration

Accumulation Layer Depletion Layer

L ttr vs
If domain formation time td is greater than the domain transit time ttr, the domain does not have enough time to develop the diode is stable. Gunn diode is stable if td > ttr; Gunn diode may oscillate in one of the Gunndomain modes if td < ttr

Field

td Rd Cd =
Cathode Distance Anode

0 q n0 d

Kroemer criterion for domain formation:

no L > ( no L )CR , where ( no L )CR

0 vs = q | d |

Stable Gunn diodes - amplifiers


If the Kroemer criterion is not met:

no L <

0 vs q | d |

High-field domains do not form and Gunn diodes are stable.

Field/concentration distributions and impedance frequency dependence in stable Gunn diode

Stable Gunn diodes - amplifiers

Reflective type microwave diode amplifier: When the diode resistance Rd <0, the amplitude of reflected e/m wave Arefl is greater than that of incident wave Ainc

Stable Gunn diodes travelling space-charge wave amplifiers

Space-charge amplitude increases from cathode to anode: unidirectional amplification.

Gunn diode mode of operation parameter map


I.

no L > =

0 vs q | d |

Gunn diode works as an oscillator

The mode of operation depends on the relationship between the resonant frequency of the attached resonant circuit f0 and the domain formation time: 0

td =

q n0 d

f0 < 1/td Gunn diode operates in the Gunn domain mode. f0 > 1/td Gunn diode operates in the limited space charge accumulation (LSA) mode no domains are formed. For the LSA mode, f0 > 3 1/td if f0 >1/td but f0 < 3 1/td, Gunn diode operates in a mixed Gunn domain/LSA mode

II.

no L <

0 vs q | d |

Gunn diode works as a stable amplifier. No Gunn domain or LSA oscillations