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# Square Law and Linear Detection Application Note 986

Introduction
Schottky diode detectors are used to detect small signals close to the noise level and to monitor large signals well above the noise. From the noise level up to about -20 dBm (Figure 1) the slope of the response curves is constant. This is the square law region. Video receivers usually operate in this range. The diode receives the signal directly from the antenna in most systems, although a preamplifier may be used to improve sensitivity. This type of receiver is used in short range radar or in counter-measure equipment where the sensitivity of the more complicated superheterodyne receiver is not needed. Above about -10 dBm the slope is closer to linear but may vary about 30% for different values of frequency, diode capacitance, and load resistance. The slope may be controlled by tuning at the proper power level. Linear detection is used in power monitors. In some applications the linearity is important because the detected voltage is a measure of power input.
DETECTED VOLTAGE (mV)

100 RL = 100K 10 5082-2824 1K

100K 1K 1 5082-2800 0.1 FREQUENCY 2 GHz 0.01 -40

-30 INPUT POWER (dBm)

-20

Figure 1. Square Law Response

Detection Law
Over a wide range of input power level, P, the output voltage, V, follows the formula
V=K( P)
DETECTION LAW

2.4 2.2 2.0 1.8 1.6 1.4 1.2 1.0 0.8 5082-2824 DIODE 2 GHz FREQUENCY 100 K OHM LOAD RESISTANCE TUNED AT -30 dBm

At low levels, below -20 dBm, ∝ is two. This is the square law region. When DC bias current is used (usually microamperes), the diode impedance is independent of power level so the tuning can be done at any level. Usually the diode is tuned at -30 dBm. The detected voltage at this level is called the voltage sensitivity. At higher power levels the diode impedance changes with power. At these levels, the value of ∝ can be as low as 0.8 (Figure 2). The slope is related to diode capacitance, frequency, and load resistance. When the circuit is retuned at each power level, the output and the slope increase.

-40

-30

-20 -10 0 10 POWER INPUT (dBm)

20

30

Figure 2. Variation of Detection Law with Input Power

0. The output voltage at 2 GHz is nearly equal to the 1 GHz voltage above 22 dBm. about 50% less for the lower capacitance 5082-2824 diode. This is shown in Figure 4 where the detection characteristic for the higher capacitance 5082-2800 diode is steeper than the characteristic for the -2824 diode. This is explained in greater detail in the Appendix. Figure 3.30 1K 0. The degradation factor analysis does not explain this crossover. Higher Frequency Increases Slope 100 2 GHz FREQUENCY 100 K OHM LOAD RESISTANCE TUNED AT -30 dBm VOLTAGE OUTPUT (VOLTS) 10 5082-2824 VBR 22 VOLTS Cjo 0.38 pF 0. The effect is more serious at higher frequencies because capacitance susceptance is proportional to frequency. The results are summarized in the table.30 -2800 100 K 0. Load resistance has little effect on the ratio.2 Frequency and Diode Capacitance – Effect on Voltage Sensitivity The diode junction capacitance shunts the junction resistance. Figure 4. See Appendix.46 0. measurements of voltage sensitivity at 20 microamperes bias were made (Figure 1) with a 5082-2800 diode with a zero bias junction capacitance of 1. Detected voltage is reduced because some of the input current flows through the capacitance and never reaches the resistance where detection takes place.1 -10 -2 6 14 22 POWER INPUT (dBm) 30 Effect of Breakdown Voltage In Figure 4 the curves cross so that above 22 dBm the voltage detected by the -2800 is higher than the voltage detected by the lower capacitance -2824 diode. Since frequency and diode capacitance appear in the degradation factor as the product fC. The detected voltage is about 70% less at the higher frequency for the 5082-2800 diode. Ratio of Voltage Sensitivity at 2 GHz to Voltage Sensitivity at 1 GHz Diode Load Resistance Measured Ratio Computed Ratio 1K 0.52 OUTPUT VOLTAGE (VOLTS) 100 5082-2800 DIODE 100 K OHM LOAD RESISTANCE TUNED AT -30 dBm 10 1 GHz 1 2 GHz Two values of load resistance were used. Similarly.40 pF and a 5082-2824 diode with 0.29 0.1 -10 -2 6 14 22 POWER INPUT (dBm) 30 Frequency and Diode Capacitance – Effect on Slope in High Level Detection Figure 3 shows how the slope of the detection characteristic becomes steeper at higher frequencies. It is related to the effect of breakdown voltage. These measurements agree with the computed ratios.95 pF 1 5082-2800 VBR 86 VOLTS Cjo 1. Higher Capacitance Increases Slope .88 pF. the effect is more serious for higher capacitance diodes. the increasing slope at higher frequency also happens at higher capacitance.48 -2824 100 K 0. The main reason for this behavior is the lower value of junction resistance at higher power. To illustrate these effects.