This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Establishing the Minimum Reverse Bias for a p-i-n Diode in a High-Power Switch
ROBERT H. CAVERLY, MEMBER, IEEE, AND GERALD HILLER, MEMBER, IEEE
Abstract —Au p-i-n diode bias reverse voltage, paper the sion
circuit is the
a high-power applied dc has This that diode’s expresselecting voltage parameter
performance ability must
such as loss, distortion,
application voltage. either
of an appropriate the magnitude a possible for a p-i-n
not be compromised.
It is this conditionally than 1 kW) The applied
of the peak RF lower value. diode operating
or by empirical explores
safe region where most high-power (greater p-i-n diode switches are designed to operate.
the reverse reverse dc voltage bias
bias requirement voltage similar voltage value for
in a high-power minimum for this self-geuerated verified setting.
RF and microwave under
environment. is equivalent is developed the applied
It demonstrates to the and reverse p-i-n A concise
dc reverse bias voltage must be large enough to prevent excessive conduction during the positive portion of the RF signal. If excessive conduction does occur, the p-i-n diode loss will failure. lines, equal increase and the diode will be subject design in to
assist the design
in more accurately
In the absence of any theory the design to the engineer RF peak voltage,
or analytic resulting
a dc bias voltage extremely frequently, howmatching a p-i-n presents a guide
INTRODUCTION property large radio much lower are design current requirements of a p-i-n diode is its
conservative and costly designs; more ever, the design is based on empirically diode to an available voltage. This paper
ability to control microwave signals with and voltage. minimum ohmic no existing While there level
frequency (RF) and values of dc current rules for selecting based on allowable are of , , there a
for the p-i-n diode circuit designer, similar to the forward bias case, for selecting a minimum applied reverse bias voltage based on diode and circuit operating parameters. The investigation requirement of p-i-n circuit diode conditions, of the relationship under zero of the reverse bias observations bias open applied was prompted distortion by experimental
loss and distortion
design rules on which
to base the selection
the minimum level of applied dc reverse bias voltage. The instantaneous voltage across the p-i-n diode (both RF and dc) must never exceed its avalanche breakdown voltage ( VBR in Fig. l(a)), where high densities may cause p-i-n diode failure. reverse current Safe operation
using a test circuit the effective voltmeter
of the type shown in in the voltmeter internal resistance
Fig. 2. The
109 Q resistor
line to increase
will result if the instantaneous voltage never forces the p-i-n diode into forward conduction or into avalanche breakdown (Fig. l(b)). However, this requires that the applied dc voltage be at least equal to the peak RF voltage and that the breakdown voltage be at least twice the peak RF voltage (VR~). In many applications, high applied reverse bias voltages are often not available or are too expensive to implement. Frequently, p-i-n diodes are operated in the so-called conditionally safe region, where an instantaneous excursion of voltage into the forward conducting region may be tolerated (Fig. l(c)). If a dc reverse bias voltage in this region is chosen, circuit
Manuscript received March 30, 1990; revised August 13, 1990. This work was supported by the Semiconductor Products Division of M/ACOM, Inc.. Burlington, MA. R. H. Caverly is with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Southeastern Massachusetts Univers@, North Dartmouth, MA 02747. G. Hiller N with the Semiconductor Products Division, M/A-COM, Inc., South Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803. IEEE Log Number 9039361.
from its nominal 107 0 value to better approximate an open circuit across the diode. The voltage read was then approximately 1Yo of the diode voltage. A self-generated its high-impedance reverse bias dc voltage was developed in priand of an The magniacross the p-i-n diode that allowed state with the diode to operate
tude of the self-generated dc voltage was influenced marily by the peak RF voltage level, the frequency, the thickness of the i region. Upon application
equivalent externally applied dc bias, the distortion generated was identical to the self-generated dc voltage. However, when the applied dc voltage was lower than the self-generated voltage, unstable performance would occur, manifested by large increases in distortion signals and by heating of the p-i-n diode, which often led to device failure. Published experimental results by other investigators  show similar device and circuit parameters that affect the degree of forward conduction in the p-i-n diode. An analysis of the p-i-n diode leading to a concise expression for the safe minimum operating dc reverse bias voltage is presented. The expression indicates how the
(a) Unsafe operating region. 1. safe operating region for the reverse. 1’ v > -. and (c) conditionally biased p-i-n diode. (b) safe operating region. .CAVERLY AND HILLER: ESTABLISHING THE MINIMuM REVERSE BIAS FOR p-i-n DIODE 1939 I I VDC I L ‘PEAK ‘BR ~ I I J 1‘BR ‘DC 1 q ‘PEAK —v 1 v UNSAFE BIAS VDC + IVRFI > VBR I SAFE BIAS VDC + VRF e VBR VDC > VRF (a) (b) ‘DC ‘PEAK ~ ‘BR 1. I I CONDITIONALLY SAFE BIAS VDC + VRF < VBR VDC < VRF (c) Fig.
11. forward conduction =2nqu +(1/A) dQ/dt. of (2) into shows that the total density. the peak RF voltage level (1V~~l). q is the of the drift u is the drift equal permittivity. is defined In real circuit applications. tive for a finite amount of time before If a time variation of the form ejat for all quantities is assumed. and the i-region thickness (W). during the portion diode of the RF signal. DECEMBER 1990 R = 1000 M ohm the i-region positive the p-i-n stored charge is never established never achieved. 2.. (6) The resistance (or conductance) of the p-i-n diode can be computed from the amount of stored charge in the i region . /T. = 2rrq~ + edE/dt J(t)is the total density (where of electrons electronic q p-i-n diode i region factor. when bias p-i-n can biased is the dielectric E is the electric field. velocity and quency. The conducting is therefore state of . This requirement is the basis for a conservative “worst case” p-i-n diode dc reverse bias point. of the developed diodes open-circuit. using be unconditionally if the diode (3) (3). reverse expression experimental carriers (assuming and electron surements of the developed open-circuit zero bias voltage across a variety of p-i-n diode geometries and circuit operating conditions. 12. In the presence an ideal rectifier the state. Test set used for measurement of the self-generated of p-i-n diodes. J(t) where carrier density elemental charge velocities). n is the i-region the density of holes equals the the hole analysis). p-i-n diode time as the starts time is T. the time required for the i region to fill with charge carriers (both holes and electrons from the heavily doped end regions) during the forward cycle of the applied RF signal. to comthe p-i-n The diode Idc = Qd. Assuming that the flux density through the diode’s cross section (A) yields D is uniform @dA=bdv=DA ‘QA’E charge as J(t) density. magnitude derived duty to simplify charge. flowing zero bias of both through (1) is based on the existence currents related to the dc reverse bias voltage in the needed p-i-n The voltage significant forward conduction SPECTRUM ANALYZER I conduction and displacement the p-i-n diode : dc voltage Fig. diode RF voltage In most ANALYSIS RF or microwave conduct its forward diode into signal.1940 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MICROWAVE THEORY AND TECHNIQUES. 38. zero bias state is directly to prevent analysis in p-i-n diode. the excursion into the forward direction of the RF signal may be too short to allow pletely traverse will then dependent sufficient time for the carriers the i region. Rather. the of and circuit and minimum is verified peak parameters RF using voltage bias such as freaffect the The meavoltage. current density. such that the peak RF voltage swing remains between the device turn-on voltage (typically 0. W then. the does not show the same instantaneous turn-on ideal rectifier diode. Depending on the frequency. IVRFI. however. Experiments  have shown that the dc voltage developed by the p-i-n diode in its open-circuit. In this case no externally applied dc reverse bias voltage is necessary to prevent forward conduction since ‘RF”KIRF=(W+ ‘7a) ‘dc=ba’dc=(a (7b) . hence preventing its conducting state -. (4) as W/2 u . Fr’””1 ‘R=-’’=!G dR=’OMOhm Between region for ) these two limiting cases lies an operating the p-i-n diode where prevention of forward conduction of the diode may be achieved by reverse biasing the diode at a voltage less than the peak RF voltage. Substituting current the results J(t). NO. An application example is also presented. (2) of an applied places the where Q is the sum of both the RF and dc components of the i-region stored charge and p is the total i-region (1) may be written diode will instantaneously diode where applications avoided a reverse-biased in the p-i-n is reverse is used. VOL.7 V for silicon diodes) and the reverse bias breakdown voltage. The RF and dc voltages are determined from these resistances and the corresponding currents: diode from entering act as a Iossy capacitor on the i-region thickness with its capacitance and p-i-n diode cross and section. where IV~cl = A p-i-n diode with i-region thickness has a total diode current of Z= I~~+Z~c=Q/T+dQ/dt where the i-region transit time. the RF component of the total diode current may be written as the RF signal must be posithe diode This turn-on 1~~ = Q~~(l+jcoT)\T and the dc component written as of the total diode current (5) may be conducting in the forward direction.
1 = [[ Equation (11) may be simplified Yalue of u~~t: 1+ IV’F1 Tjw’/o. The dc voltage developed across the p-i-n diode may be written using (8). approximating the ideal behavior diode. An approximation includes as  may be written U.0285fMHzw:i. Assumthe pulse period (TP) or the pulse duration ing that the electric value of the electric field field. the carrier velocity increases approximately linearly with applied electric field for only relatively low values of electric field (Fig. This test set simulates bias p-i-n Measurements made diode E. The developed dc voltage will then decrease by increasing the i-region thickness. frequencies from from and duty factors selected 0. A significant reduction in the developed dc voltage is indicated for low peak RF electric fields (low applied IVR~l). for electrons the effects in silicon field of the electric carrier but is on dc voltage. and/or \vRF@)’]’/2” ‘“3) with thin i regions. the dc voltage developed approaches the limiting factor Ivdcl = in this mode. 1). (8) )2]’” ‘ drift In ‘v””= At low frequency the developed Iv’~] [l+(o. approaches voltage. Fig. For higher frequencies or thicker ever. transit time.. semiconductor approximately velocity which . then the rms III..t.]2]]2]o”5 “ .0142~~”zW~. Fig.0.. 3 illustrates 0. for diodes semiconductors such as silicon. for the transit time The magnitude as applied RF voltage is low enough so that velocity satura- the ratio of these two voltages may be written tion does not occur: and the definition v~c ‘“ = [1+(7. high-frequency operation.95@’@ [ 1 + ~1+ mobility [0.07 to 1. assuming equal hole and of (7) using A further simplification may be used on (12) if the values for simplicity). /r I 11 I m 7TJ’W lv’~1 ( 114) 2“ 1+ — v sat EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS measurements of the dc self-generated to tlhat arm up to had in each the isolating diode levels were performed diode) were using a test set similar shown in Fig. and (10) as 100 W at..95~v~’@/w&]2]] of p = 0. in turn. The velocity. type.15 cm2/V-s 2]0”5 o mentioned if one assumes a carrier and the previously Ivdcl = [[ 1+ 0. The p-i-n i-region widths ranging from 50 to 200 ~m and encc~mpassed various cross sections and carrier lifetime values. is a function a function of the carrier u. IV~cl.4751 VR~l~/ the dependence IVdc1/ IVR~I on the rms value 107 cm/s at 290 K saturation dependence of velocity W) @=[l+ /*] where The operating the term p-i-n and I-L is the low-field is often is able to used handle carrier in mobility. Experimental voltage (reverse arm. At large RF voltages.@/ ( 12) W~. The rms value of the electric under these conditions is needed to estimate the carrier drift velocity (9) and may be computed assuming a halfwave-rectified pulsed RF waveform where the carrier frequency (~) is much larger than the inverse of either (T~). At higher electric field values. of the electric field. 4 graphically illustrates a comparison between experimental measurements of the ratio of the peak RF voltage Iv”. 2. large i-region widths (W).l/V’’@[l+ IvRFl ~ 1+ [ 0. Increasing the i-region thickness effectively increases the transit titne proportionally since at high RF voltages the carrier vek]city is limited of the applied to its saturation of the ratio RF electric value. the interaction of the charge carriers with the semiconductor lattice atoms serves to limit the velocity of the carriers to a value termed the saturation velocity. (9). may be calculated of a SP2T p-i-n at power specimens 1 to 60 MHz (lo) where D = T~ / TP is the RF pulse duty cycle. and. the peak RF of a pn junction i regions. the dc voltage developed decreases as l/~ for a given RF voltage.cAvERLy AND HILLER: ESTABLISHING THE MINIMUM REVERSE BIAS FOR p-i-n DIODE 1941 where electron w is the mobility mobility (again. This velocity varies with material. and temperature. diode high-pulsed-power kilowatts applications ‘9) of power field with the factor m 2/ D1/2 as a parameter. field (E= us~l. and short duty cycles. across the i region of the p-i-n as diode may be approximated by E = VR~/ W. holw- T.056VR.
3. RF voltage with 1:0 1000 10000 dcvoltage versus the term ~~~ZW~. For p-i-n diodes with i-region thicknesses less mately 1 mil (25 ~m). the reverse bias. Consider at 1 GHz diode operata 1 kW ing as a switch element (lV~~l = 316. DECEMBER 1990 1000 7 DF = 0. the V. the designer may now analytically determine the minimum dc reverse bias requirement for a p-i-n diode in a high-power RF environment. It also affirms that the value of the dc voltage may be significantly lower than the peak RF voltage. an external dc reverse the peak RF voltage is required.1942 IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON MICROWAVE THEORY AND TECHNIQUES. self-generated 10 $’ o >< 1 + ++ THEORY 0.1 ++ + + + stabilized and reached its new final IV. However. The experimental method described in this paper may also be used to measure the self-generated dc voltage. when the RF power was changed. example will illustrate this. however. for so that a and low RF duty cycles (D) requires safe reverse shows that. ~ 0. Typical levels of harmonic were approximately 20 dB below Upon identical tortion reverse higher proved the ated would application values measured bias than was the “of the was increased self-generated by as much was of an self-generated identical. self-generand failure. Graph of themagnitude of thepeak the magnitude as a parameter. diodes may at 108 Q.2 V across 50 Q). higher dc reto external reverse voltage. dc dc When often any duty diodes voltages diodes. increase. as 60 dB lower would to p-i-n significantly. across the diode must be very high. + EXPERIMENT APPLICATIONS EXAMPLE 1 10 100 F ~HzIV&lL / VRF D1/2 and theoretical values 1000 As a result of this study. This value may then be considered as the minimum dependence verse bias reverse distortion observations increasing experiments is consistent and . 12. lower preferable that resistance thicker and the conditionally cycle. Comparison of measured of the lJ’’acl/lvdcl. thicker p-i-n diodes 10 mil (250 ~m) to keep within under p-i-n verse bias the applied at disdc thinner p-i-n will sion for the ratio indicated by (12). 5. the switch a slower as little the distortion as 10 V imlf voltage. require appear however. CONCLUSIONS applied voltage distortion leading bias with that degrade diode on dc voltage. reverse the often of below the carrier. Fig.----Fig. loss The re- In many situations. slightly. It was also observed that the time it took the self-generated voltage to reach it final value was virtually instantaneous upon the initial application of RF power.l/I@ Fig. generally distortion the carrier. VOL. as several seconds there until appeared the a time lag of as much dc voltage value. a p-i-n with The following signal ratio Fig. NO. 4. of theself-generated 100 previously reported by the authors . 38. the design engineer is unsure of the exact RF voltage stress on the p-i-n diode or its i-region width. regardless This reverse bias requirement is relaxed. A significant experimental observation indicates that the p-i-n diode may be operated at high RF power without applying any external dc bias. Calculated thickness I-REGION THICKNESS (MILS) generated dc reverse bias voltage versus and duty cycle for a 1 kW signal at 1 GHz. The p-i-n diode here is operating in a zero bias open-circuit mode where the self-generated ate in the voltage open-circuit becomes mode. To operany external resistance higher than in this mode that approxibias equal to of duty cycle. 5 shows the calculated to self-generated dc voltage (lv~~l/lv~Cl) and the expresvalue (using (12)) of the generated reverse bias voltage as a function of i-region thickness and RF duty cycle. forward diode at most 35 V reverse bias bias region in general.01 1 PEAK RF F w2 /D112 MIL 1 VOLTAGE --- I 2 1 I 4 I I 6 I I 8 I 1 10 i-region 0 — MHz —. The figure thicker would should also have speed. with and It i regions therefore be noted.
Hiller.. S. he served as Director of Microwave Engin~ering at Unitrode Corporation. the RF voltage will be double that of a perfectly matched circuit. 1986. J. 1979. respectively. June 1982. Rpt. Under this situation. no. limiting and rectification in silicon PIN diodes. Conf. PA. This would significantly simpli~ the design and lower drivers now phase shifters. He has also bean a consultant for M/A-COM during that time. Deppe. Dr. In 1990.. Ward. In many situations the dc must be able to support RF signals may increase to a where the SWR of the load termination Semiconductor Theory and Device NJ: Prentice Hall. of large value. Englewood Cliffs. in 1983. where he was involved with control circuits. FH    [61   Mar. where he developed microwave circuits using semiconductor devices focusing on mixer diodes and millimeter receivers. MTT-30.E. HDL-TR-2057. Dr. 35. Sze. of this the preparation the cost of the higher used in higher voltage power p-i-n switches diode and being Solid-State University U. A. 492-501. no. degrees from North Carolina State University. . and he is currently involved with the Massachusetts Microelectronics Center. Fundamentals Physics. degree in electrical engineering from The Johns Hopkins University.E. to obtain distortion performance similar to that obtained when applying the full dc reverse voltage. HDL-TR-1978. S. MA. “Design with PIN diodes. NJ./Apr. Caverly’s current efforts are involved with cha~racterizing p-i-n diodes and MESFET’S in the RF and microwave control application. and R. Microwaue Symp. p.” RF Design. vol. 1073-1076. Murray Hill.” in 1989 IEEE MTT-S Int. vol.CAVERLY AND HILLER: ESTABLISHING THE MINIMUM REVERSE BIAS FOR p-i-n DIODE 1943 applied voltage reverse bias voltage safe” established that will bias the diode in the   “conditionally region. Hiller. 1. “Distortion in p-i-n diode control circuits. It would be a valuable contribution if a circuit technique could be devised that would make it possible.” Harry Diamond Laboratories Tech. Physics Interscience. In this capacity. Dec. From 1962 to 1972. and A. M.. Microwave Theory Tech. Hiller. “Distortion in Microwave and RF R.D. 1984.” in 1990 IEEE MTT-S Znt. Tech. pt. Aug. 2. Gombar. increasing reliability and lowering the cost of p-i-n diodes. high-power switching applications. he is interested in the application of computer software to microwave engineering problems. REFERENCES   G. for Defense Appl. switches by reverse biased PIN diodes. S. Caverly has been employed at Southeastern Massachusetts University since 1983 where he is an Associate Professor.E. R. Rosen. From 1958 to 1962. He received the Ph. K. M. Ward. In 1985. Philadelphia. Leeds. Garver.E. Caverly and G.E. Microwave Theory Tech. MD. A.E. ACKNOWLEDGMENT The ronic authors wish to thank the and Electrical Engineering Group of the assistance during Department of Electand the Microwave of Leeds. vol. In addition to his interest in computer-aided engineering in microelectronics. pp. in the United Kingdom. S.. Mr. Caverly (S’80-M’82) was born in Cincinnati. he was with the Micro State Electronics Operation of Raytheon Company. Inc.  of Semiconductor Devices. he wrote many technical papers pertaining to the use of p-i-n diodes at RF and UHF. in 1978 and 1976. 2. G. Appl. pp.” Harry Diamond Lab.” J. Ward. Dig..” IEEE Trans. 3. Caverly. New York: Wiley- Gerald Hiller (S’57-M’58) was born in New York City. he was a Visiting Research Fellow with the Microwave Solid State Group at the University of Leeds. Caverly was awarded the Dow Chemical Outstanding Young Faculty Award by the American Society of Engineering Education for his educational activities. He received the B. Baltimore. vices below benefit safe may the be region Depending avalanche of biasing may on the a p-i-n desired diode in the level be used must reflect E13 in the condiscreening the significantly the of deRobert H. G. “Calculations of high-current characteristics of silicon diodes at microwave frequencies. 1981. 1964. R. Schwarz. MA.” IEEE Trans. S. pp. and B. 1989. “p-i-n diodes for low-frequency. “Calculations of second breakdown in silicon diodes. Rpt. May 1990. Wang. 622. Watertown. Microwaue Symp. he was employed by Philco Corporation. where he was active in the development of Unitrode’s p-i-n diode product line. 1982.” presented at High Power Microwave Tech. vol. In 1987. Mar. “The reverse bias requirement for PIN diodes in high power switches and phase shifters. Oct.. degree from the City College of New York in 1958 and the M.. amplifiers. he was appointed Director of the University’s Computer Aided Engineering Laboratory. Caverly and G. OH. 876–881. Hiller has been Manager of Semiconductor Applications at the Semiconductor Products Divisicm of M/A-COM. “Spike leakage. Another tionally devices. A. Hiller and R. NY. Dis. Caulton. Stabile.E. May 1987. June 1989. P. MTT-35. by applying only a small incremental dc reverse voltage to the self-generated voltage. Phys. A. Lucovsky. Burlington. and R. Since 1984. In applying (12) or (13) the inserted value of RF voltage the peak value at maximum voltage stress. Dr. “Transit time considerations in p-i-n diodes. degree from the University of Pemlsylvania in 1963. He received the M. From 1972 to 1984. Raleigh. for their manuscript.E. Emmons. screened at a voltage breakdown voltage.. and multipliers and served as Semiconductor Applications Manaf!er.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.