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1 Diodes

(1) Symbol and I-V Characteristic of Diode

A diode is a two-terminal active electronic device containing an anode and a

cathode, and it is characterized by the ability to pass an electric current more easily

from cathode to anode than from anode to cathode.

Symbol of the diode is shown in figure 1-(a). V

D

is the bias voltage across the

diode, and i

D

is the current through the diode. The diode I-V characteristic is shown in

figure 1-(b). Here the dashed line indicates the ideal I-V characteristic and the solid

line indicates a realistic I-V characteristic. Below forward voltage, current through the

diode can be taken as zero, above forward voltage, current increases rapidly with the

increase of voltage.

(2) Logical Implementation for Diodes

Given the basic I-V characteristic of diode, we can discuss a couple of structures

that can implement logic functions. The first one is an “OR” gate.

V

Forward

i

D

V

D

i

D

+

v

D

--

(b) I-V Characteristic (a) Symbol

Figure 1 Symbol and I-V characteristic of Diode

In Figure 2-(a), A and B are the two inputs, and Y is the output. Resistor R is

connected to ground. When A and B are both low, Y is low. If either A or B is high,

because resistor R is much greater than the internal resistor of A and B, voltage across

R is high, so output Y is high. The truth table is listed in figure 2-(b).

Next we introduce an “AND” gate which is shown in figure 3. Again, A and B

are the inputs and Y is the output. The resistor is connected to V

DD

.

Here if A and B are both high, no current flows through resistor R, and the output

Y is high. If A or B is low, the respective diode is turned on and there is a large

voltage drop across R, so output Y is low. Let us discuss this structure in more detail.

(a) Schematic

Y

A

B

R

1 1 1

1 0 1

1 1 0

0 0 0

Y B A

(b) Truth Table

Y A

B

R

+V

DD

(a) Schematic

1 1 1

0 0 1

0 1 0

0 0 0

Y B A

(b) Truth Table

Figure 2 Schematic and truth table for “OR” gate

Figure 3 Schematic and truth table for “AND” gate

In order to get the characteristic of transform function of V

OUT

over V

IN

, we set

input A to V

DD

and change the input voltage V

IN

on input B. When V

IN

is equal to

V

DD

, there is no current through resistor R, and output Y is equal to V

DD

. Now we

reduce V

IN

. Nothing happens until V

IN

reaches V

DD

-V

F

(where V

F

is the forward

voltage of diodes). Then when V

IN

continues to decrease, V

OUT

decreases accordingly.

At last when V

IN

is zero, the curve intercepts Y axis at V

F

.

(3) Disadvantages of Diode Circuits

Diode circuits have several disadvantages as listed below.

(1) We cannot implement inverting logic with diodes. The only option is to use

other logic devices for inversion. (2) The I-V characteristic has low small signal gain

in the transition region. (3) There is no isolation between input and output in these

gates.

2 Resonant Tunneling Diode

Resonant tunneling diode is a device that has two tunneling J unctions. Its I-V

characteristic shows negative differential resistance characteristic (NDR).

(1) Structure of RTD

Figure 5 shows the structure of RTD. Here the gray part is GaAs that has small

band gap, and the white part is AlGaAs that has large band gap.

Y A

B

R

+V

DD

V

IN

V

OUT

V

IN

V

DD

V

DD

-V

F

V

F

V

DD

V

OUT

<1

Figure 4 Detailed analysis of “AND” gate

(a) Schematic

(b) Voltage Transfer Curve for V

in

vs V

out

(2) Energy Band Diagram of RTD

We show the energy band diagram of RTD in figure 6. From the figure we can

see that RTD has thin well region and a thin barrier region. According to quantum

mechanics, electrons can tunnel from outside into the well through barrier under

suitable conditions.

Without any voltage bias, the electron energy level in the well is higher than

fermi levels of both sides. So, no electron in the conduction band can tunnel to the

well, and there is no current.

GaAs AlGaAs

Large Energy Gap Small Energy Gap

Thin Thin Thin

Barrier Barrier

Fermi Level

Well

Conduction Band

Fermi Level

Conduction Band

Figure 5 RTD Structure

Figure 6 Energy band diagram of RTD

Now we apply a bias voltage across the RTD. The energy level diagram changes

as shown in figure 7. Because of the bias voltage, energy level on the left becomes

higher. Now some electrons in the left can tunnel into the well. After that they can

continue to tunnel out to the right. Current from left to right increases due to

tunneling.

Now let’s continue to increase the bias voltage. The energy level on the left

continues to increase. Though electrons in well region can tunnel out to the right side

by inelastic tunneling, no electrons can tunnel from left to the well region now. As a

result, current begins to decrease, and we get the NDR region in the I-V curve.

(3) I-V Characteristic for RTD

From the analysis above, we can get the I-V characteristic for RTD as is shown in figure 9.

V+

V-

Barrier

Barrier

Fermi Level

Well

Conduction Band

Conduction Band

Fermi Level

V+

V-

Barrier

Barrier

Fermi Level

Well

Conduction Band

Conduction Band

Fermi Level

Figure 7 Energy band diagram of RTD with small bias voltage

Figure 8 Energy band diagram of RTD with large bias voltage

First, because of the tunneling of electrons, current through RTD increases with the increase of V

D

.

Then when V

D

continues to increase, after some point (I

ON

), no electrons on the left can tunnel

into the well, and current begins to decrease. If we keep increasing V

D

, due to thermal

mechanisms, current begins to increase once again.

In figure 9, I

ON

is the peak current generated by the tunneling of electrons.

I

VALLEY

is the valley current due to the decrease in tunneling. Large ratio of

I

on

/I

valley

is desirable. This is because large ratio means large gain for the negative

differential resistor region. Secondly, large ratio often implies small I

VALLEY

. I

VALLEY

is

usually the leakage current. So decreasing I

VALLEY

leads to decreasing power

dissipation.

(4) Logical Implementation for RTD

As an example, an “xor” circuit which uses a resonant tunneling diode and an

ordinary diode is analyzed below. The schematic of the circuit is shown in figure 10.

I

D

V

D

I

ON

I

VALLEY

Negative

Differential

Resistor

Region

Region A

Region B

Figure 10 “XOR” Circuit Schematic

B

R

C

A

R

R

Y

Figure 9 I-V characteristic of resonant tunneling diode

Here input A and B are both connected to ordinary diodes, which in turn, are

connected to resistors. Then both of them are connected to a resonant tunneling diode,

which is connected to a resistor R

C

.

For purposes of calculating voltage across the resonant tunneling device, the

order of connecting the RTD and resistor R

C

does not matter. So we can analyze the

equivalent circuit shown in figure 11. RTD exchanges its place with resistor R

C

. This

does not change the voltage across RTD.

Now we will analyze the characteristic of the circuit with different inputs. Firstly,

we will analyze the situation when A is low (0 volts) and B is high (V

DD

).

Because A is zero, diode connected with A is turned off and can be removed from

the circuit. B is V

DD

, so diode connected with B is turned on. We can get the

equivalent circuit as shown in figure 12-(a). V

F

is the turn on voltage of an ordinary

diode. Merging voltage sources and resistors that are connected in series, we get the

reduced equivalent circuit shown in figure 12-(b). Now we can draw load line of the

B

R

C

A

R

R

Y

Figure 11 Equivalent Circuit for “XOR”

V

F

V

DD

R

R

C

I

D

V

D

V

DD

-V

F

R+R

C

Non-Linear

Device

Non-Linear

Device

-1/(R+R

C

)

Load Line A

V

DD

-V

F

Figure 12 Circuit Analysis with A is low and B is high

(b)

(a)

(c)

circuit which is shown in figure 12-(c). Load line intercepts axis X at V

DD

-V

F

and its

slope is equal to -1/(R+R

C

). We can find that in this case voltage across RTD is low,

so output Y is high. By the same method we can easily deduce that when A is high

and B is low, output Y becomes high.

In the second step we set both A and B to high. In this case, both the diodes are

turned on.

We get the equivalent circuit for this situation as shown in figure 13-(a). The

equivalent voltage source is still V

DD

-V

F

but the resistor connected to it becomes

R/2+R

C

. Load line is shown in figure 13-(c). It has a slope of -1/(R/2+R

C

). From the

figure we can see that the voltage drop across RTD is high, so output Y becomes low.

The third step is to set both A and B to low, in which case there is no current

through R

C

. It is obvious that output Y becomes low.

V

F

V

DD

R

R

C

I

D

V

D

V

DD

-V

F

V

DD

-V

F

R/2+R

C

V

F

R

-1/(R/2+R

C

)

Load Line

Non-Linear

Device

Non-Linear

Device

Figure 13 Circuit Analysis with both A and B are high

(b)

(a)

(c)

0 1 1

1 0 1

1 1 0

0 0 0

Y B A

Y=A XOR B

Figure 14 Truth table for the “XOR” circuit

From the analysis above, we can get the truth table as shown in figure 14. We

should note that the low output voltage is often greater than zero and the high output

is smaller than V

DD

.

Another example we will show here is an RTD latch. It is composed of two RTDs

connected in series.

The schematic of the RTD latch is shown in figure 15-(a). Here V

D

is the bias

voltage.

In order to get load line characteristic, we first draw the I-V curve for one RTD

and then flip and shift the I-V curve for the other RTD and draw it in the same figure

as shown in figure 15-(b). These two I-V curves intersect at 3 points. One is located at

low voltage, one is located at high voltage and another is located at middle voltage.

The middle one is not stable and the other two are stable.

Another thing we want to talk about the RTD latch here is power dissipation. In

order to lower the circuit’s power dissipation, we can lower the intersecting points A

and B. But by doing so, we also lower the driving capability of the output of the

circuit and the speed of the circuit. So there is a tradeoff between power dissipation

and speed.

3. Nanotube FET

Carbon nanotubes are one-dimensional nano structures with electrical properties

that can be used for applications in nanoelectronics. Recent researches find that they

can be used as the channel of nanotube field-effect transistors.

Figure 16-(a) is AFM image of an intramolecular logic gate. A single nanotube

bundle is positioned over the gold electrodes to produce two p-type CNTFETs in

(a) Schematic

V

D

I

D

Unstable

V

D

Stable

Stable

(b) I-V Characteristic

B

A

Figure 15 RTD Latch

series. The device is covered by PMMA and a window is opened by e-beam

lithography to expose part of the nanotube. Potassium is then deposited through this

window to produce an n-CNTFET, while the other CNTFET remains p-type. Figure

16-(b) is the characteristic of the resulting intramolecular voltage inverter

4. A Molecular Electronic Device

Here we introduce an electronic device that uses a molecule containing a

nitroamine redox center as shown in figure 17.

Typical I-V characteristics of a Au-(1c)-Au device at 60 K are shown in figure

17-(b). The peak current density for this device was .53 A/cm

2

, the NDR was 2380

mohm/cm

2

, and the peak-to-valley ratio (PVR) was 1030:1. This device exhibits a

robust and large NDR.

(a) (b)

Figure 16 Nanotube FET

(a) (b)

Figure 17 A Molecular Electronic Device

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