APPLICATION NOTE

Mixer and Detector Diodes

Surface Barrier Diodes Electrical Characteristics and Physics of Schottky Barriers
Most people who use diodes are more familiar with junction Schottky barrier diodes differ from junction diodes in that current
devices than with the surface barrier diodes commonly used in flow involves only one type of carrier instead of both types. That
mixer and detector circuits. In a junction diode the rectifying is, in n-type Schottkys, forward current results from electrons
junction is formed between a p-type region and an n-type region flowing from the n-type semiconductor into the metal; whereas in
of a semiconductor. In a surface barrier diode the rectifying junc- p-type Schottkys, the forward current consists of holes flowing
tion is formed between a metal and a semiconductor, which may from the p-type semiconductor into the metal.
be either n-type or p-type. Diode action results from a contact potential set up between the
Both devices operate on the same physical principals, the differ- metal and the semiconductor, similar to the voltage between the
ence being in the construction. two metals in a thermocouple. When metal is brought into con-
The Schottky barrier diode is made by sputtering or evaporating tact with an n-type semiconductor (during fabrication of the
the barrier metal onto the surface of the semiconductor (silicon chip), electrons diffuse out of the semiconductor into the metal,
or gallium arsenide). leaving a region under the contact that has no free electrons
(“depletion layer”). This region contains donor atoms that are
The Schottky barrier type is available with a wider range of elec- positively charged (because each lost its excess electron), and
trical properties and package types for more advanced circuits. this charge makes the semiconductor positive with respect to the
In this application note we go into the details of the physics, metal. Diffusion continues until the semiconductor is so positive
construction, and applications of Schottky diodes. with respect to the metal that no more electrons can go into the
metal. The internal voltage difference between the metal and the
semiconductor is called the contact potential and is usually in the
Types of Construction range 0.3–0.8 V for typical Schottky diodes.
Schottky diodes are available from Skyworks on two semicon- When a positive voltage is applied to the metal, the internal
ductor materials—silicon and gallium arsenide. Silicon diodes are voltage is reduced, and electrons can flow into the metal. Only
available in either n-type or p-type polarity while GaAs diodes are those electrons whose thermal energy happens to be many times
available in n-type only. Skyworks Schottky diodes can be divided the average can escape, and these “hot electrons” account for all
into classifications based on packaging and chip construction. the forward current from the semiconductor into the metal.
Mounted Beam-Lead Package One important thing to note is that there is no flow of minority
In this type, one or more beam-lead Schottky diodes with carriers from the metal into the semiconductor and thus no neu-
coplanar leads are bonded onto a ceramic, fiberglass, or tral plasma of holes and electrons is formed. Therefore, if the
plastic substrate. This construction is mechanically rugged, forward voltage is removed, current stops “instantly,” and reverse
has very low inductance, and is particularly convenient for voltage can be established in a few picoseconds. There is no
double-balanced mixers. delay effect due to charge storage as in junction diodes. This
accounts for the exclusive use of surface barrier diodes in
Unmounted Chip microwave mixers, where the diode must switch conductance
These are for those who prefer to use chips; they are available in states at microwave local oscillator rates.
several different sizes and bonding pad arrays.

Unmounted Beam-Lead Diodes
These are for use in MIC circuits or other special constructions,
where minimum inductance or minimum size are important. They
are available as single diodes, pairs, quads, and other monolithic
arrangements.

Skyworks Solutions, Inc. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc.com • www.skyworksinc.com
200826 Rev. A • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. • August 19, 2008 1

RS VF IS Frequency Drive (V) (pF) (pF) (Ω Ω) (V) A KU DMF 2 0. The barrier height is important as it determines the amount of local oscillator power required to drive the diode into its nonlinear region. designers to use is one in which all parameters are independent books (for example.30 7 0.33E–13 X DMF 2 0.5 2.skyworksinc.com • www.5 3.30 7 0.8 6. If more local oscillator power is available a higher barrier diode could be used to improve intermodulation distortion.50 4 0.05 0.8 4.30 0.6 2.15 12 0.* of voltage and current.6 4. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc.97E–12 Skyworks Solutions. n = ideality factor The barrier height φB is primarily determined by choice of barrier metal and the type (n or p) of semiconductor used.05 0.30 7 0.15 0. A .50 4 0.V .15 0. Inc. CJO Max. Matrix for mW Spice Diode Model VB CJO Min. The derivation is given in many text.17E–08 DME 3 0.6 6. If there is limited local oscillator available a low barrier diode would be used.APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES The voltage-current relationship for a barrier diode is described Richardson’s equation describes the behavior of the diode but it by the Richardson equation (which also applies to thermionic is hard to use for circuit design.50 4 0.com 2 August 19.48E–07 DME 3 0.30 0.97E–09 DMJ 4 0. The simplest one that agrees fairly well with Richardson’s equation is q φB qv I = AA**2 exp – exp –1 qv kT NkT –1 I = A*J O *(exp(q*V/nkT) – 1) = IS exp nkT where A = area (cm2) where A** = modified Richardson constant (amp/oK)2/cm2) I = current in amps l = Boltzman’s Constant A = area of Schottky barrier in cm2* T = absolute temperature (°K) JO = saturation current density in amps/cm2 * φB = barrier heights in volts V = applied voltage in volts V = external voltage across the depletion layer n = ideality factor (positive for forward voltage) .5 1. Sze).15 12 0.15 12 0. A better equation for circuit emission from a cathode).30 0.IRS T = temperature in Kelvin RS = series resistance * typical values for these variables and others necessary for com- I = diode current in amps (positive forward current) puter modelling are included in the following table.8 2.53E–09 DMJ 4 0.15 0.27E–07 DME 3 0.33E–10 DMJ 4 0. • 200826 Rev.53E–12 S DMF 2 0.05 0. 2008 • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. A secondary consideration is the crystal orientation of the sub- strate.

A • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice.com 200826 Rev.15 0.10 0.com • www. = qµ N A N d CP LP where Package pF (nH) L = thickness of epi in cm 130–011 0. Inc.5 The resistance of the substrate is given by the following equation: Rsub = 2* ρS* (A/ π) 1/2 Skyworks Solutions.09 0.03 0.6 µn = mobility of electrons for n-type Si (for p-type silicon the 207–011 0. • August 19.14 0.15 for n-type silicon with Nd =1017 CP COV CJ RJ Series Resistance The series resistance of a Schottky diode is the sum of the resis- tance due to the epi layer and the resistance due to the substrate.13 0. The total capacitance of a Schottky diode is: lead Schottky diode. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc.6 mobility of holes would be used) 247–001 0.5 A = area of Schottky contact in cm2 464–011 0. CT = CJ + Cov + CP Cathode N-Type Diode Anode N-Type Diode where Gold Beam Barrier/Overlay Metal Gold Beam CJ = junction capacitance Cov = overlay capacitance CP = package capacitance Passivation The junction capacitance is generally measured without bias and is governed by the following equation: CJ RJ COV REPI A*q*ES*Nd 1/2 EPI Layer CJ (0) = (2*(Vi – kT/q)) RSUB Substrate At an applied voltage CJ(v) can be computed by the following equation: where Cj(0) RJ = junction resistance CJ (V) = CJ = junction capacitance (1 – (V/Vi – kT/q)) 1/2 Repi = resistance of epi layer Rsub = resistance of substrate (spreading resistance) where Cov = overlay capacitance A = area of Schottky barrier in cm2 The equivalent circuit of these structures is shown below. APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES Diode Cross-Section Schottky Barrier Diode Capacitance The following picture shows a cross-section of a typical beam.6 Nd = doping density of the epi layer in cm3 404–011 0. The resistance of the epi is given by the following where equation: RS = Repi + Rsub CP = package capacitance (where applicable) t LP = package inductance (where applicable) Repi = q*Ue*Nd*A The following table lists CP and LP for some standard single diode L packages. Nd = doping density of epi layer in cm3 ES = dielectric constant of material *EO LP RS V = applied voltage in volts Vi = built in voltage = φB -0.skyworksinc.3 325–011 0. 2008 3 .

• 200826 Rev. so the signal is converted to Noise Figure (NF in dB) a lower frequency where high gain and good selectivity can be would be specified in a particular mixer circuit at a particular RF more easily achieved. This. 2008 • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. the conversion efficiency should be at tomary parameters are: least 20%. figure in the IF amplifier. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc.) The reason for doing this is that selective amplifiers at the RF frequency are expensive. The quality of a mixer diode is generally controlled by either low the customary ones being: frequency parameters or RF operating parameters. frequency and LO power level. with the exception that 1/f noise is now second in impor- tance instead of fifth. turning it on would be specified in a particular mixer circuit at a particular RF and off at a rate determined by a local oscillator (LO). in dBm) Reverse Voltage (VB) at 10 mA or 100 mA is the minimum RF signal level. RT. The diode may be operated at a small DC bias (typically and harmonic impedance presented to the diode. Series Resistance (RS) or cutoff frequency (fCO) Tangential Signal Sensitivity (TSS. a detector diode can be specified by RF parameters. will result in a low overall noise figure. The frequency conversion is obtained by operating a diode with Conversion Loss (LC in dB) fast response and high cutoff frequency as a switch. Inc. very low capacitance is required to achieve high sensitivity.com 4 August 19. Ideally. The IF amplifier should be Detector diodes are designed to rectify very low levels of RF designed to have its optimum noise figure for this source imped- power to produce a DC output voltage proportional to the RF ance. at some particular forward current.0 MHz (such as for Doppler Mixer Diodes Compared To Detector Diodes radars or autodyne mixers). the mixer diode should accomplish this expresses the low frequency impedance of the driven diode.skyworksinc. Voltage sensitivity depends on bias Junction Capacitance (CJO) at zero bias current and CJO. unless the diode itself generates noise (other than normal IF Impedance (Zif) thermal noise). sidered as a source of IF voltage.com • www. The excessive noise voltage need not be specified unless the IF frequency is less than 1. Voltage Sensitivity (V/mW) Low frequency parameters customarily specified are (in order of importance): is the ratio of DC voltage output to RF power input at a particular frequency and power level. The output frequency and LO power level.APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES Where Series resistance is sometimes controlled by specifying dynamic A = area of Schottky contact in cm2 resistance. Since the output is at a very low level. the cus- possible. frequency (IF) is then the difference between the LO frequency and the RF frequency. A . 50 µA) which results in a relatively high RF impedance (typically 600 Ω). the low Detector Parameters frequency. a detector diode can be specified by its low fre- important consideration. con- with a minimum of LO power and no DC bias. quency parameters. Series resis- ρS = substrate resistivity in Ω-cm tance can then be calculated by subtracting RB (RB =28/I(ma)) from RT. RF Impedance (VSWR) A good mixer diode with a high cutoff frequency will be capable expresses how well the diode and circuit are matched to the LO of low conversion loss (LC). (In practice. audio frequency excess noise (“1/f noise”) is an As with mixers. the same ones that apply to the mixer diodes. as well as RF power. See Excess Noise Voltage (1/f noise) Figure 1: Leakage Current (IR) at IV Skyworks Solutions. In order of importance. As a result. in dB below 1 mW. Mixer Parameters Alternatively. that produces Forward Voltage (VF) at 1 mA a tangential indication on a low frequency oscilloscope. combined with a low noise source at a particular LO power. Mixer diodes are designed to convert radio frequency (RF) Some people prefer to specify RF parameters instead of the energy to an intermediate frequency (IF) as efficiently as above low frequency parameters. This parameter is dependent on LO power.

the forward voltage at 1 mA. the generator voltage is: 2VL (t) = 2V Lcos ωL t where VL = (2Z 10 P L ) -0.028] Figure 1.028/IP. the low frequency diode conductance. The local oscillator drives the diode into heavy forward 2VL – VF conduction for nearly half a cycle and into reverse bias for the IP = Z Z 10 + R S = R B other half cycle. then you have the situation indicated in Figure 2: 1 .com • www. actual value to some other number. • August 19. Diode Curve Mixer Diodes VF V Theory of Mixers Figure 3. which has the diode conducting only if the (Tangential sensitivity depends on voltage sensitivity. Γ. APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES For available LO power. 2008 5 . PL.com 200826 Rev. It is the same as RT at the bias current used (about 600 W for any diode with 50 µA bias). The reflection coefficient of the diode. at the semiconductor Therefore. RB. diode voltage exceeds a forward voltage. Z0. Measurement of Tangential Signal Sensitivity This equation can be approximated by a two-piece linear approximation. Inc. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc. considered as a source of video voltage. In package parasitics is to transform the source impedance from its practice. VF: excess noise voltage. IF I Slope = 1 Figure of Merit (FM) RS + RS This parameter combines voltage output and ZV to give a convenient bandwidth-independent measure of TSS. The RF signal and the local The barrier resistance. The equation for IP is or hybrids. The approximation can be justified by graphing the equation or In this model the only effect of the junction capacitance and by looking at an actual diode on a curve tracer (1 mA/cm).VF1. can be used for VF.skyworksinc. should be evaluated at the peak oscillator drive power are coupled into the same line by filters current using RB = 0. in Ω) is the low frequency impedance of the diode. then varies periodically as a function of time. Diode Forward Characteristics The simplest way to think about the action of a mixer diode is to consider a single-ended mixer consisting of a single diode at the end of a transmission line. G is junction. Mixer and Equivalent Circuit Skyworks Solutions. otherwise LO Sig Impedance 100 k IF Xformer G(t) Figure 2. A • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. If the instantaneous junction conductance is G(t). Video impedance (ZV. and both RF and video bandwidth). if 2VL(t) > VF G(t) = RS + R B Coupler Packaged LO Source ZO Diode (L) ω 2CJ 2 R S .5 Diode I–V Approximation The forward diode characteristic is given by the equation L(t) = IS exp[(Vt) – IRS /0.

Therefore. Cutoff frequency must be expressed as a Fourier series should clearly be as high as possible. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc. Inc. For this reason. nature won’t allow you to do this. The important term is the one involving ωL – ωS.APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES If you use this reasoning to compute the time-dependent reflec. the G waveform sion loss unless very wide bandwidth is desired. if the reactance of CJ is = 2 arc cos ( (8Z 1 P ) -0. Conduction angle and RB Γ(t) = Γ0 = Γ1 cos ωL t + Γ2 cos ωL +.5 0 L ) between Z’0/2 and 2Z’0.. for a large range of CJ. the “cutoff Figure 4.skyworksinc. because this tion coefficient. the conver- sion efficiency is determined almost entirely by the ratio of LO Typically the conduction angle is between 120° and 170°. is the difference frequency (IF). you clearly want RS to be -1 zero. the capacitive reactance should be chosen to be Conversion Loss Z’0 or typically 100 Ω. LO power should be high and forward voltage should be low. P IF (0. and by the conduction angle. since the range of variation 1+Z 0ω J S of fc in actual products is limited by material properties. the result is a rectangular waveform (Figure 4). the voltage of the reflected wave is VR (t) = Γ(t)Vcos ωt = Γ0 VS cos ωt + Γ1 cos ωL tcos ωS t +. Time Dependent Reflection Coefficient frequency. where Γ1 = 2/ π( ΓF – ΓR )sin Θ/2 – 2/ π(2 – 2Z 10 ωL 1C J 2R S – 2RS + R B /Z 10 )sin Θ/2 When there is an incident of RF signal voltage VScoswSt. ωL2C J 4 1 2 Θ = 2 arc cos ( VF ) η= π2 sin 2 Θ 2 [ 1 – ( ZX C 0 + XC Z 10 ) f fc – RB Z 10 ] VT VF The quantity in parenthesis is close to 2. i. n. = Γ0 VS cos ωt + 1/2 Γ1 V S [cos(ωL – = ωS )t cos(ωL – = ωS )t].. • 200826 Rev. whereas CJ can be designed for almost any value. The ratio of reflected power at this frequency to the incident power at ωS is the conversion 1 efficiency. The exact value is not critical for conver- In order to handle the mathematics of the mixer.5 Γ1 V S ) 2 Γ1 2 ΓR η= = = PS VS 2 4 Γ(t) 4 (RS + RB ) 2 Θ = π2 [1–Z 1 2 2 2 0 ωL CJ CJ R S Z 10 ] sin 2 2 ΓF To optimize the conversion efficiency. are determined by LO power and forward voltage. frequency to the cutoff frequency of the junction. Skyworks Solutions. so diode manufacturers introduce a parameter. So. 2008 • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. by the peak current which determines RB. T.. is the conduction angle.. The angle.e.. in addition to the LO voltage.” which is essentially independent of junction diameter: 1 fc = RS + RB – Z 10 2(R B + R S ) 2πRS CJ ΓF = ~ ~1 + RS + RB + Z 10 Z 10 where fc = cutoff frequency 1 2C 2R It is useful to express conversion loss in terms of fc instead of 1–Z 0ω J S ΓR = 1 2C 2R ~ 2 ~1 – 2Z 10 ω CJ 2R S RS. however. In practice low RS means large junction diameter and thus high CJ (and vice versa). leaving CJ as the free parameter.com 6 August 19.. the number of electrical degrees of the LO waveform during which the diode is 1 RS = conducting.com • www. A .

APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES For high drive levels. any case. • August 19. such as the ones used at Skyworks the same efficiency. in direct proportion. instead of loss and the higher this contribution is. Skyworks Solutions.25 Noise factor is defined as the ratio of the signal-to-noise (S/N) ration at room temperature at the signal input to the mixer to the f/fC S/N ration at the output of the IF amplifier. (This effect can be eliminated by filtering the LO or by using a balanced mixer. This can be eliminated by using a harmonic enhanced design. the junction noise increases The conversion loss actually measured on production diodes is in due to trapping of electrons.9 dB improvement. Image noise—If the signal frequency is fL + fiF. noise at frequencies near harmonics of 5 the LO frequency can also be converted to the IF frequency. This doubles the noise at the IF port. Harmonic noise—In the wide-open. then noise at the frequency fL – fIF is also converted to the IF frequency with Actual single-ended mixers.com • www.9 dB better thermal noise. is same conversion efficiency as the signal. the circuit can be designed to reflect all harmonics and will be directly proportional to the absolute temperature back into the diode. The higher the RS the more the conversion than this because of harmonic suppression.5 dB. single-ended mixer design LC (dB) we are talking about.10 0. Diode thermal noise—The parasitic resistance RS generates slightly better. At high current levels there is the following figure. 2008 7 . This noise is also converted to the IF frequency with the and the conversion loss. the noise power going into the IF amplifier is exactly equal to the noise coming in with the signal. Θ is close to 180°. Theoretically. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc. so the signal-to-noise ratio is reduced by exactly the amount of the conversion loss. thus acting 7 like an excess noise source. Excess noise—At low frequencies. This noise often has 1/f spectrum general agreement with the previous equations. In addition to this.skyworksinc. This noise turns out to be half what the quencies between the operating frequency and the harmonics. This noise has a minor effect on mixers and is several years. an actual mixer can be 0.15 0. The conversion loss points are from a large additional noise due to velocity saturation of the carriers and number of production lots measured at Skyworks over the last carrier trapping. Therefore. Shot noise—Electron flow across the diode depletion layer is designed to have a low pass characteristic that cuts off fre. give results similar to this equation. the sum frequency and other harmonics being absorbed in the This noise source will increase if the diode is run at elevated source resistance. LO noise—The sidebands of the noise from the local oscillator may overlap the signal and image frequencies. the noise added from the image and the diode Frequency thermal noise (from RS) exactly makes up for the noise lost in the conversion process. the f RB mixer adds other sources of noise: LC ~ 3. the results follow discussed in a later section. generates shot noise. For a moderately heavily driven Figure 5. not only the wanted signal comes into the diode to be converted to the IF frequency. 8 6. but also random signals of various sorts.5 + 17 f/fC 7. A • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. and if these reflections are phased properly. but the signal is reduced. if the diode is at room temperature.com 200826 Rev. IF noise—The input stage of the IF amplifier adds some noise and the last term contributes about 0.9 dB is subtracted for harmonic suppression. That is. Most mixer specifications assume that the IF amplifier has a noise figure of 1. to test Schottky diodes. of the diode. remixed with harmonics of the –Γ waveform to produce more IF output.9 dB + 17 +9 fc Z 10 1. of its own. In actual diodes this happens automatically if the package 3. 5. Inc. you get the full 0. As can be seen in Figure 5. Noise figure is the noise factor expressed in dB. 4. Conversion Loss as a Function of Normalized mixer (RB ≈ 0).20 0. equation (4–15) if 0. they are reflected back into the diode to be temperatures. in dB. sin t/2 is nearly one and Noise Figure RS – 0 so the best conversion efficiency is Definitions and Formulas 4 f RB 2 η= 2 π ( 1–2 fc – Z 10 ) In practice.05 0. or 2.5 dB. 0. In thermal noise would be in an ordinary resistor equal to RB. 4 or by making sure that the package parasitics isolate the junc- tion from the circuit at the harmonic frequencies. as indicated in and is therefore called 1/f noise.) 6 3.

4 dB + 17 f/fc + 10 log10 (NTR) + 9 R B /Z 10 NF ~ If you compute the DC voltage by similar reasoning. or crystal current: (w = t) is room temperature. decreases. you find that there is an apparent reverse DC voltage equal to For IF frequencies below 1. There are many other factors. This is usually accounted for measurement is more convenient to do. a hot source or broad- = L C (dB) + N IF (dB) band noise tube (or noise diode) is used as a “signal” source. and the deviation of the where the NTR. and usually the mea- by assigning an effective temperature to the diode.0 MHz the 1/f noise becomes impor- VDC = – Z0 IDC tant and the noise figure could be higher than this unless the diodes are selected for low1/f noise. as well as higher Ω resistor. is IF noise figure from 1. A .5 dB (if the actual amplifier has a different noise figure. The total current is NTR = Noise Temperature Ratio 2V L cos ωL t – VT if 2V L (t) > VT In most specifications. Also. and conversion loss will be degraded further. For low noise ratio at the output of the IF amplifier. when the considered. driven with a quiet local oscil. RB decreases.) temperature. the ω 2C J 2R S VL cos ωL t. 3 dB to obtain the SSB noise figure.com • www. NF = L C (dB) + NTR(dB) + N IF (dB) the loss in signal -LO combiner or filter. θ θ θ Therefore. Nevertheless. excess noise (1/f noise) should be taken into ified (“single sideband”) noise figure. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc. (Actual single ended mixers typically use a 100 tional noise due to traps and velocity saturation. the IF amplifier noise figure is assumed to l(t) = Z 10 be 1. the diode is assumed to be operated at a junction temperature equal to The average DC current. the back resistance. such as line losses.com 8 August 19. NTR = T0 =1–4 fc ( T0 ) –1 RB T + Z 10 (2– T0 ) Crystal Current The diode produces DC current as a result of rectifying the local oscillator current. this kind of account if the IF frequency is low. is ~ 5. but the high forward current activates addi- to be equal to Z0. as the reverse swing from the LO approaches diode breakdown. Inc. At high local oscillator drive This is caused by the DC current through the DC circuit assumed levels. the shot noise and the excess junction noise should be at the signal frequency and image frequency. 2008 • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. (otherwise) data are corrected to the nominal 1.skyworksinc. In addition. If enough LO power is absorbed to heat the signal were used. current DC kT π (Z 10 + RS + RB ) lator. one should take into account the temperature “double sideband” noise figure) will be 3 dB lower than the spec- of the diode. if the IF frequency is not too low the expected noise crystal I = [ 2VL sin 2 – 2 cos 2 ] figure for the single-ended mixer. In addition. T0. coupler losses. Thus the noise figure increases instead of approaching a constant. twice as much output drive the increase in noise figure is not as great as the increase is obtained with the noise source on than if a single frequency in conversion loss.APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES After adding in the IF noise figure. The measured noise figure (the so-called diode significantly. RR. The shot noise added by the junction is only half noise source is switched on and off to determine the signal-to- what would be expected from a resistor equal to RB. • 200826 Rev. in this model.5 dB). which may be surement consists of measuring the DSB noise figure and adding either less or more than room temperature.5 dB which must be taken into account as part of the calibration in order to get the correct noise figure for Teff f T the single diode mixer alone. the result is Double Sideband (DSB) Noise Figure NF = noise figure (dB) When noise figure is actually measured. Skyworks Solutions. Unless filtering is used. Therefore. this kind of source provides “signal” both However.

bandwidth requires a coupler which increases the conversion loss.com 200826 Rev. • August 19. a 6 dB coupler adds 1. Nevertheless. disadvantages which limit its usefulness.. but the noise figure goes up at high LO power due to heating and other 2VL (θ – sinθ) effects. the VSWR should be less than 1. To couple the LO and signal onto the same line with broad of the applied DC or IF voltage to the change in crystal current. noise figure and multiplies required LO power. crystal current and IF impedance of an X-band diode. matched to the LO source impedance.. In terms of the LO current As an example of the behavior of these parameters as LO power and voltage it is defined as: is varied. If an external DC bias is applied to the diode.. forward I-V characteristic.1 0. it is important to know what its low frequency (IF) impedance is. Even with a low VSWR.5 1 2 5 10 LO Power (mW) IF Impedance Figure 6. the noise figure for actual diodes I(t) = IDC + ILO cosωL t + I2 cos2ωL t+. Mixer Parameters as a Function of LO Power When the diode is considered as a source of IF voltage. small reverse DC (or IF frequency) voltage is the same as increasing VT by the same amount. A • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. Inc. VSWR. too much LO power is reflected into the will change. or diodes and circuit conditions Single-Ended Mixer should be chosen to prove an optimum impedance for the input The single-ended mixer used in the above analysis has some of the IF amplifier. The IF amplifier has to be designed to work optimally when driven Practical Mixer Configurations from a source of this impedance. ZLO. 0. (For ∆V F 1 example. can be about 1 dB better due to harmonic suppression.com • www..20 pF. CJ =. whichever is larger ZO ZLO Z0 = 150 Ω.) 2π 1 = (Z 0 + RS + RB ) Θ Skyworks Solutions. 2008 9 . due to a change in the conduction range. the following graph shows the noise figure. The ZLO ZO fixed parameters are VF = . VLO = 2VL – Z 10 ILO NF ZIF CC (dB) (Ω) (mA) 12 700 VSWR 6 ZLO VL 10 2π ( R Z+ R +1) S B 11 600 CC 5 = = –1 Z 10 Z 10 ILO θ-sinθ + πω 2CJ 2RS Z 10 10 500 4 ZIF 9 400 3 VSWR = [ ZZ ]LO 1O ±1 8 300 NF 2 7 200 1 In order to reduce radiation of the LO from the antenna. APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES VSWR This is always greater than 2Z0 and typically ranges from 200 to The VSWR expresses how well the RF diode impedance is 500 Ω. This corresponds to a reflection of 6 100 0 less than 5% of the LO power. and VSWR = or .skyworksinc. the crystal current 1. is the ratio of VLO and ILO which diodes at Skyworks.6. RS = 7w. such as those used for testing mixer The large signal impedance.2 dB to the conversion loss Z IF = = ∆IDC (dlDC /dV f ) and noise figure and requires four times the LO power. values appropriate for low barrier diodes in a waveguide test holder. these formulas can give you some insight ILO = + 2ω 2CJ 2RS VL into the meaning of the various RF parameters and their relation- 2π (Z 10 + RS + RB ) ship to the capacitance and I-V characteristics of an actual diode. Applying a signal port. The IF impedance is the ratio 2. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc.2 0. Also. are the first order Fourier coefficients of the voltage and current Performance is better at low LO power levels than these waveforms: formulas indicate because actual diodes have a soft knee in the V(t) = VDC + VLO cosωL t + V2 cos2ωL t+.28 V.

(involving the transmission coefficient instead of the reflection This requires the use of very broadband baluns or transformers.APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES 3. Conversion loss is the same as for the single-ended mixer. coefficient) formulas for conversion loss and noise figure similar In recent years. (These are in the LO power. However. 2008 • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc. as well as a practical single-ended mixer: harmonic enhancement cannot be used. so no filtering is needed at the IF port. Single-Ended and Balanced Mixers When LO is in “positive” phase. restricted severely. this kind of mixer circuit is a natural. if the IF and LO frequencies are close. diodes (1) and (4) conduct and connect the positive arm of the signal transformer to the IF output. which will increase the noise figure.com 10 August 19. the reflected LO power cancels. provided the diodes are well enough matched. remember that in circuits with bandwidth over one octave. or as unmounted beam- noise spectrum overlaps the signal frequency. Ring Quad Configuration of a single diode).skyworksinc. If the coupler is unacceptable. Double-Balanced Mixer anced mixer containing two diodes driven in opposite phase. if the AM available mounted on various carriers. but the IF output adds LO Input if the diodes are reversed. so there is a penalty in conversion loss.) Figure 8 shows one of the most common circuit configurations. Twice the LO power is required as for a single diode mixer. The mixer is very sensitive to amplitude variations (AM noise) a ring configuration using beam-lead technology. or star configuration two pairs of diodes therefore act like a high-speed SPDT switch. C. no extra LO power is needed. Single-Ended Mixer The easiest way to understand the conversion action is to Sig Input RF Bypass consider Figure 9: Coupler Matching IF Output LO Input Network + LO 100 Ω IF Output – B. A. tions. and the ZIF depends on how the sig- nals are combined (for the transformer circuits it will be half that Figure 8. diodes (2) and (3) conduct. double-balanced mixers to the point where bandwidths over 25 GHz are possible. a set of filters can be used. The noise figure will be reduced dramatically compared to the single-ended mixer because the AM noise from the local oscillator at the signal frequency is cancelled at the IF If you know how to design broadband baluns or transformers. The best solution is to make all four diodes simultaneously in 4. Double-Balanced Mixers When the LO is negative. • 200826 Rev. but be physically very close together to avoid inductive parasitics. the solution to these problems was to use a bal. To do this requires that the diodes Skyworks Solutions. the bandwidth will be and exhibit good electrical matching between all four diodes. A . makes it possible to cancel the LO reflections and noise at both When one goes through the mathematics for the conversion loss the signal and IF ports. output. The The use of four diodes in a ring. However. In Sig Input this case. several manufacturers have developed these to the ones for the single-ended mixer can be derived. and the negative arm of the signal transformer is connected to IF. Ring Quad for Analysis Figure 7. The IF Output VSWR can be much lower. you should Figure 7 shows some of the common balanced mixer configura. lead quads.com • www. Inc. bridge. Balanced Mixer For many years. Balanced Mixers 1 Sig Input 4 3 dB 0° Hybrid 2 LO Input IF Output 180° 3 + Sig Input Signal 0° – 3 dB IF Output Hybrid LO Input 180° Figure 9.

Frequency Barrier Height There is quite a lot of latitude in choosing CJ.80 >10 mW High Dynamic Range Detectors General Noise Figure vs.35–0. excess determine or regulate the RF level. and reverse conduction. If high LO drive level is needed.2–2 mW Low–Drive Mixers Medium Barrier 0. Normally. the capacitive reactance should be a little lower than the The barrier height of a Schottky diode is important because it transformed line impedance (Z0). However. which is essentially VF1.6 Zero Bias 0.50 0. must be large compared to practical mixers use an XC near this value (a little higher in wave- VT. with an RF impedance transformation circuit and some low- frequency components. it is best to have a low for.10–0.25 <0. The bias resistor generally has a very high impedance compared to the diode constant and bias the diode to a favorable imped- ance level. a diode detector will require a single diode together (which is important only if the diode has to run hot). However.e. APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES Parameter Tradeoffs C vs.50–0. • August 19. and lower in 50 W systems). or as a level sensor to levels noise figure again increases due to diode heating. high LO power is needed. Detector diodes act as square law detectors for low-level signals. Typical Detector Circuit However. noise figure is poor because of poor con. In order to get good to start is to use XC = 100 W. the voltage output will saturate.1 mW Mainly for Detectors ~ ~ (in pF) f Low Barrier 0. noise. guide. if high dynamic range is impor. the output voltage is proportional to the square of the RF dynamic range. GaAs Diode Bias Resistor Typical silicon Schottky diodes have cutoff frequencies in the 80–200 GHz range. voltage at the junction (i. higher fc may be needed. proportional to the RF power). in gen- eral. and the diode can have a higher VF and should also have a high VB (see table below). and not increase at be obtained with diodes designed for lower LO drive.so more LO power is required. the detector will become linear. to get higher That is. VL. and at still so the noise figure will be degraded compared to what could higher levels. A • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. LO Power Detectors are typically used to convert low levels of amplitude At low LO drive levels.5–10 mW General Purpose High Barrier 0. Experience has shown that most noise figure the LO drive voltage. which calls for the use of GaAs diodes.skyworksinc. a good way directly determines the forward voltage.This translates to the ward voltage (low VF1. or low drive) diode.. At high LO drive for retrieval of modulated information. They also have high VF1. Detector Circuits Such a high breakdown diode will have low reverse current In general. voltage and breakdown are basically independent parameters.25–0. 100 CJO ~ ~ ω Type Typical VF1 LO Power Application 1. but high breakdown is not needed or desirable unless high LO power is used. of a diode for operation at frequency f (in GHz): tant. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc. if your IF frequency is low. These DC RF Return Bypass have lower RS due to higher mobility. higher signal levels. Forward all with increasing signal. which translates to cutoff frequencies in the 500–1000 GHz range. for example. be careful. However. The configuration looks like: Silicon vs. RF Impedance Video Source Transformer Amplifier At Ku–band and above or for image enhanced mixers.com 200826 Rev.com • www. 2008 11 . to reduce the amount following “rule of thumb” for choosing the junction capacitance of LO power needed. then VB should be specified (>5 V). Inc. modulated RF power to modulated DC. which is good for use through Ku-band.35 0. Figure 10. Skyworks Solutions. GaAs diodes have high 1/f noise. due to too low a conduction angle. If Z0 is not known. The output can be used version loss. At nature requires that you pay for this with higher RS (lower fc).

028 (1 + Z iOG) 2 VJ = i = RS i IO + IS The output voltage of the detector will be 0. that the number “0. ] and the impedance. Inc. CJ has been “parallel-tuned” to get the highest possible VJ): = V DC + VJ cos ωt + higher frequency terms (2VS) 2 VJ 2 = (1 + Z iOG) 2 If you use the fact that the average value of cos2 is 0. Most manufacturers specify the output voltage for one microwatt RF input power. is I = IO = i cos ωt 2VS G and the I–V relationship can be written VJ = 0. If the DC current is held constant by a current regulator or a large ZO VJ resistor. A .4Z iOPRF 0. Z’.028Ln ( IO + IS IS ) + 0. the forward I-V curve of the diode (at room tempera. then the RF and DC voltages are given by the following equations: 8Z iOPRF = 0.50. In If the junction capacitance is left out of consideration for the addition.0282 VDC ( I = 0. at the diode. The impedance Z’o’ is usually limited by bandwidth considera- however.. including RF.112”is really 4nkT/q and is tions or by the practical design of the impedance transformer. and the the diode junction.028/n 1 + O IS ) – 4(IO+IS) 2 V 2 = VO – J 0. it is clearly necessary to arrange the circuit to get the maximum possible RF voltage at the Low Level (Square-Law) junction. the CJ is absorbed into the impedance transformation VJ ~ ~ 0.APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES Theory of Detection To get the maximum voltage sensitivity. The I-V curve of the junction is the same at diode should be biased to a high enough impedance (low IO) so microwave frequencies as at DC.112 VDC – VO = –8Z iOPRF = –71.028 [ i cos ωt IO + I S – i 2 cos2 ωt 2(IO + IS) 2 +. is assumed real at the junction (i. = 0. Skyworks Solutions. the DC voltage decrease from the bias voltage.e.028Ln ( IO + IS IS ) + 0. Then the relation between VJ and the available power Where VJ – V – IRS = junction voltage of the source PRF can be seen in Figure 11. then the total junction current. CJ should be low for the same reason.028Ln( icos ωt IO + I S ) VS = 2Z 10 P If the RF current. For temperature dependent. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc. RO. the impedance transformer should be designed Detection occurs because of the nonlinear I-V characteristics of to have the highest possible impedance at the diode. is small enough. Voltage Output (Square-Law Region) ture) is The output voltage of a detector will depend on the parasitics and I = IS [ exp ( VJ 0. (Note. • 200826 Rev.112 (1 + Z iOG) 2 (1 + Z iOG) 2 Therefore.028Ln ( I + I +I icos ωt) S O S Figure 11. depends on the square of the RF junction voltage only.028 ) –1] circuit impedances. the IN-term can be approxi. 2008 • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice.skyworksinc. o. i.com • www.. the open circuit RF voltage will not be loaded down too much.com 12 August 19.. That is. moment. Suppose the impedance transformer is designed to boost the source impedance to an impedance.) a fixed Z’o’ RJ should be as high as possible (which results in a high VSWR). 1 R G= + S mated in a Taylor series: RS XC2 As before.

This is the power level that raises the DC VO – VDC VJ 2 3570 voltage by an amount so the noise fluctuations do not drop below EO = = = µV/µW the level of the noise peaks with no signal. because many of the Sensitivity voltage sensitivity specifications are measured by placing the diode in the end of a 50 W line.8 VN If the detector diodes are specified at a bias current of 50 mA (RB – 560 W) and XC is designed to be large. the higher the output 2.skyworksinc.92 2kTB[560 + 2Ra 2RS ] = 48. This is about 4 dB PRF 0. Detection is so inefficient that even for wideband systems.112 1+ ( ) 100 RB above the minimum detectable signal (MDS). In this case the VSWR is equal to RB/50. sensitivity is specified by the “tangential signal sensitivity” (TSS). In this case the voltage output is The total noise voltage is 18 EO = µV/µW VN2 = 2kTB RB 1+[ ( IS ) + 2R + 2R ] a S 1 RS + RS ( ) XC2 IO + IS Since the peak noise voltage is 1. which is VNA2 = 4kTBRa over 11 if IO=50 µA. 18 RS (VN). EO = 18 RS = 10. then the matched For the biased diode measured in a 50 W circuit. –dBm.78 (1+ 50R )J 2kTB[RB + 2Ra + 2RS]mW In practice.8 dBm for Ra ~ 1200 Ω Note that if the diode has high 1/f noise. A • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice.this is: TSS = 10 log10(2828VN/VO) [ = 10 log10 0. (for IO in mA) IS IO + IS VN2 = 4kTBRS + 2kTBRB 1+ ( IO + IS ) So for IO = 50 µA. the condition for tangential voltage output is: = µV/µW RS + RB 1+ VDC + 1. of the amplifier: kind of detector.4 VN XC2 or VO – VDC = 2. Ra. the larger XC. RB = 560 Ω. the incoming noise Remember (antenna noise) need not be considered. the tangential sensitivity will be reduced considerably. shunt conductance. For a diode with 50 µA bias (RJ= 560 W) measured with a video bandwidth of 10 MHz. APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES An important special case is Z’O = 50 Ω. and therefore: To this should be added the noise voltage due to the video EO = 3000 µV/µW amplifier.com 200826 Rev. 2008 13 .8 VN (1 + 50R ) 2 (2. 28 RS = . the Tangential Signal Sensitivity (TSS) voltage output per unit power input for Z’O – 50 Ω is At low power levels. which can be expressed in terms of fictitious noise It should be pointed out that the VSWR will be very high for this resistance. atypical bias current. Z’O = 1/G. Skyworks Solutions.com • www. All the noise is produced in the diode and the video amplifier. Inc. output voltage is From the previous equation. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc. but remember that practical diodes are limited by a finite Tangential Power = = VOUT 3750 cutoff frequency so a large XC automatically means a larger RS. it is usually sufficient to have XC > 20 W and RX < 40 W which results in no more than 2 dB degradation The tangential sensitivity is the tangential power expressed in of the output voltage compared to the above equation. Another important special case is when Z’O is matched to the The standard value of Ra is 1200 Ω.4 VN = VO – 1. If the CJ is small enough.8 V ) S N voltage. • August 19.000µV/µW = 0.4 times the rms noise voltage.

0. Depending on the intensity setting of the oscilloscope. This begins to happen when VJ = 0. the reverse bias behavior of the I-V curve becomes important. • 200826 Rev. the 1 Saturation apparent peak noise can be much larger than this.1 Output (V) To take the operator dependence out of the TSS measurement.8 V N same formulas as for the crystal current of a mixer if VT is replaced by VF1 – VDC. and RS = 20 Ω.com • www. Detector Output Characteristics TSS = 10 log10 FM For biased diodes.APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES If the circuit is matched to the diode. Skyworks Solutions. The measurement of TSS is complicated by the fact that the 10 apparent peak noise voltage may not be exactly 1. Inc. the detector will begin to deviate from RSRB square-law behavior. the diode starts rectifying in the reverse direction as well as in the forward direction. the sensitivity can be calculated from the Tangential Power = ( XC 2 18RB ) 2. At higher power levels. and this results in a limitation of the output voltage.157 ( 1+ RX R ) S B C 2 2kTB RB [ 1+ I I+ I O S S +2 RS + RB RB ] value IO and the output voltage will approach twice the signal voltage. the situation is slightly more complicated S = 10 log10 ( FM 4kTB ) + 5 log ( 2ZZ ++2R2R ) 10 V V a a The relationship is even more complicated if 1/f noise is consid- ered which may be necessary if the diode is biased. 1+ For these signal levels.01 FM is introduced. IO = 0 and VDC – V F 2VS = – 8Z 10 PRF RS = RO – RS = ZV – RS so the tangential sensitivity is: This behavior is called linear detection because of the linear TSS = 10 log10 [ 0. which is defined by Square Law 10-3 EO FM = 10-4 ZV + RN Noise 10-5 For diodes with zero bias the TSS is calculated from the FM by -40 -20 0 20 40 the formula PRF (dBm) 4kTB Figure 12. as the reverse voltage approaches If you assume typical values as XC = 200 Ω. 0.4 VN. VS. At a little higher TSS = 10 log10 [ 4. resulting in an Linear error of several dB in the apparent TSS. the tangential sensitivity will High Voltage Output be significantly increased.com 14 August 19. and begins to lead down the circuit.skyworksinc.0005) -5 1 ZV ( 1+ 1200 Z )] V power. the diode will develop enough reverse bias to keep the crystal current at the = 0. A . B = 10 MHz VB. then the result is: to Z’O.6 x 10 (1 + 0. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc. At high signal levels. 2008 • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. Therefore: For a zero bias detector diode.157 ( 1+ RSZV XC 2 ) 4kTB ZV ( 1+ Ra ZV )] relationship between VDC and VS.028 V. the slope of the reverse characteristic becomes comparable Ra = 1200 Ω. In this case the TSS is At high signal levels. = -55 dBm for ZV = 2000 – 5000 Ω The whole input/output characteristic of a detector is illustrated Figure of Merit (FM) in Figure 12.

but this approach is limited by the RS and CJ. Narrow-band detectors with voltage outputs of 10–30 mV/µW can be achieved this way. A schematic is shown in Figure 13. the frequency at which the 1/f noise is equal Bias Diode to the shot noise. and the TSS will not be more corner of less than 3 kHz. but has a high VSWR.skyworksinc. It is also limited by bandwidth considerations Figure 15. For the 50 Ω type the best voltage sensitivity Combining this with the thermal and shot noise expressions gives is 3600 uV/uW. It is halves the signal voltage available at the diode. Detector Configuration Bias DC Return High Sensitivity Low Noise RF Source In this type. Typical Detector Circuit—Flat Response and losses in the impedance transformer. Tangential sensitivity approaching -70 dBm (in a << 1 MHz video bandwidth) is achievable with good diodes. Even higher sensitivity can be obtained by reducing the video bandwidth. but this is compli- cated by the fact that for typical diodes the excess noise does not The above configuration has a reasonable flat response if the have an exact 1/f spectrum. A • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. At Skyworks. and also because the noise corner RF source is well matched. the noise power per unit Impedance Low Noise RF Source Transformer Video Amplifier bandwidth has a behavior: Return A ∆ (V 2 N1) ~ ∆f f Figure 13. the extremely wide bandwidth and low 560 W resistor. high ZO (over 10 K). the noise output will be less than a than -48 dBm. Ideally. Diode Bias quency spectrum instead of the uniform spectrum characteristic of thermal noise and shot noise. (unless the diode package increases the imped- ance at the chip above 50 Ω). • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc. Skyworks Solutions. and reduces interesting to note that for a 50 µA biased diode with a noise the output to less than 1 mV/µW. This is sufficient as a qualitative measurement resistor can be included to eliminate the reflections. DC Return A Low Noise fN = RF Source Video Amplifier 2KTRJ In terms of noise corner. Therefore. VSWR of this type of detector make it very useful. the actual lower frequency limit.com • www. this should be 50 Ω the zero bias resistance of the diode. an impedance transformer is used to raise the Video Amplifier impedance to as high a value as practical. It is convenient to eliminate the constant A by defining a noise corner frequency fN. Typical Detector Circuit—Wideband IS fN B V2N1 = 2kTB RB { [ 1+ IO + IS + B /n 1+ fL ( )] +2Ra + RS } Flat Detector The noise corner can be specified for a diode. but this of noise corner frequency. since VN2 is proportional to fN. the 1/f noise output is sensitive to any mismatch in the source which will then is measured in a bandwidth of 60 kHz (with fL = 8 Hz) as a mea. it can depend on bias conditions. 2008 15 .com 200826 Rev. and tangential sensitivities are ( V 2 N1 = A Ln 1+ B fL ) + 2kTB [ R ( 1+ I I+ I ) + 2R + R ] S O S S a S limited to about -54 dBm (in a 50 MHz band). Figure 14. reflect back some of the reflected signal. APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES 1/f Noise Excess noise due to surface static and traps often has1/f fre. Wideband fL+B V N1 = L 2 fL f + BA f df = A/n ( fL ) A detector circuit uses a wider band impedance transformer or balun and is limited to a much smaller impedance at the diode. and low noise video amplifiers. a 50 Ω sure of 1/f noise. The configuration is shown in Figure 14. The circuit is shown in Figure 15. • August 19. That is. usually 50–200 Ω. To avoid this. Typical Detector Circuit–High Sensitivity To find the total noise voltage. However. of the video amplifier must be known. fL. Inc.

A typical circuit is be shown in sensitivity at very low signal levels. Inc. Parameter Tradeoffs Conversely. since RS matters less in detectors than in Although the zero-bias detector diode looks like a good way to mixer diodes. it is sufficient to have XC > 150 W in a detector diode. approaching Diode Bias Supply fourth law or fifth law in many cases. However. bias resistor also simplifies the design of impedance matching networks for narrowband. Thus the RF voltage at the junction will be using an identical diode as a reference. and the RF power will be dissipated in reference voltage. Skyworks diodes bias has no 1/f noise. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc. detectors much less than it should be. A .com • www. properly matched. In this Detectors that must operate over a temperature range. in the case of high output detectors. In addition. Vo. Therefore. built into the detector. In this case 1/f noise voltage resistance is inversely proportional to T. 2008 • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. noise temperature of the resistance RB at video frequencies. No Bias not allow enough bandwidth. increased.com 16 August 19. The lack of to 60 kHz (at 50 µA bias) when low 1/f noise is specified. Some detector designers use diodes with RS as reduce circuit complexity. • 200826 Rev. if the bandwidth extends below 10 kHz. or must case. this is usually too stringent for 50 Ω detectors. Low Noise CJ vs.skyworksinc. the diode self-biases to a lower resistance. That is. applying bias to a diode reduces the high as 100 Ω. (video impedance) will be too high. a diode operated at zero or the noise output in a particular audio band. this type of diode is the choice are screened using an audio amplifier with a response from 8 Hz for audio frequency output. the CJ may Bias vs. the bias resistor can be chosen to compensate for the 1/f Noise natural temperature variation of RJ (which is proportional to Detector diodes are usually used in systems whose video absolute temperature in °K for constant current).1/f (f = signal frequency in GHz) which is good for “typical” detectors. For this reason. the small Skyworks Solutions. Temperature Compensated Detector (for CJO in pF): CJO < 1. It over temperature. and more of the power reaches the diode. This results in substantial RF Source error if a square-law characteristic is assumed. in a low loss detector mount. This effect does not happen if a zero-bias Schottky diode is used. The net result is that the detected response is Bias faster than square law at very low signal levels. then RB will be constant becomes much more important than for typical mixer diodes. lower CJ should be traded for more RS. When the signal level is Figure 16. especially flat detectors.APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES Matched Pairs signal resistance. RB. such as motion detectors. The video impedance of a zero-bias diode is can be specified by a noise corner frequency. Therefore. even be insensitive to variations of bias supply voltage. RB. as in many Diode power level measurement applications. or by an upper limit very temperature dependent. resulting in lower TSS and voltage are often sold in matched pairs. This leads to the following “rule of thumb” Figure 16. If a mixer diode or a detector diode not designed for zero-bias operation is used without bias. Frequency Differential Video Amplifier For most purposes. However. This can be done by lossy circuit elements. Caution should be used in selecting diodes for use in unbiased detector circuits because deviation from square-law behavior can occur at low levels. the voltage sen- sitivity increases. In this case. must have the over a narrow bandwidth. high sensitivity detectors. it will be impossible to get a good match to the diode.

Detector diodes typically have lower capacitance and thus 3. the resistance of the diode at high currents will not be very because detector diodes are not usually exposed to high power low (typically around 10 Ω). Basically.skyworksinc. depend on the total dissipated energy for pulse lengths over 5 ns. This can be eliminated by using a small capacitor between the source of the transient and the diodes. Dependence of Burnout Power on Pulse Length Transients and Electrostatic Discharges For the same reasons outlined above. This. because they produce digital pulses given power dissipation. the diode does RF pulses. Therefore. This is often not an issue. out the diode within about 2 nanoseconds (the longer the leads. since most people wear plastic clothes and shoes. All of the metallurgies used in Skyworks Schottky diodes are good for at least 350 °C. 2008 17 . The solution is to always ground your hand. higher frequencies. and on the degree of perfection of the these two causes. especially at the edges. but is more related to the incident power (if the peak-to-peak Switching transients in actual circuits can cause the same effect. mines whether the diode will burn out. there are three reasons for this: Burnout vs. pliers. the maximum junction temperature is controlled by the thermal resistance of General the chip and package. Skyworks Solutions. and the temper- using a curve tracer instead of a multimeter.) The ohmmeter batteries in a typical multimeter range exact knowledge of both the diode and the circuit is that the sus. All that can be said without won’t be. the temperature rise is directly A person’s hand can easily acquire a charge of over 5000 V on a proportional to the total pulse energy dissipated in the epitaxial dry winter day. The metal semiconductor contact is not as stable burnout than low-frequency diodes. whose dynamic then the burnout rating should be given serious consideration in resistance may drop to a few tenths of an Ω at high selecting the diode. it can release as layer just under the barrier metal. if there is sufficient inductance between the source and the diode. and when it touches the diode. there grounded—someone may have touched one of the conductors will be relatively little dissipation in the junction. the burnout rating will depend Schottky barrier diodes are more subject to burnout due to inci. the burnout chemically as a junction between two regions deep power is approximately inverse with frequency. The barrier diameters are very small (less than . of course. forward currents or high incident RF power. or any other tool before touching the diode. reaches a certain temperature. but the situation is not tweezers. even the very small junction diodes used in microwave systems. smaller diameter junctions are used. if the incoming RF pulse has a peak-to- (Also. voltage is high enough). if the system requires that they be exposed. dent RF pulses than are typical junction diodes. Therefore. In this case. For RF pulses less than 5 ns long. At higher pulse and charged it. or CW. resulting in high dissipated power density. Frequency 1. However. makes higher frequency diodes more susceptible to 2. Because of lack of charge storage (conductivity modulation) smaller junctions than mixer diodes. that simple.5–9 V. The exact temperature depends (The majority of diode burnout problems we encounter are due to on the metallurgy used. Schottky diodes are subject A diode will begin to degrade when some part of the junction to burnout due to circuit transients and electrostatic discharges. and the leads will be charged to this voltage until ceptibility of the diode to burnout is related to both the power (or they touch the diode. the percentage of the incoming energy that is dissi- pated will increase. The amount of dissipation in the diode will Another way of damaging diodes is to check the front-to-back also depend on the circuit.com • www. whereas for long within a semiconductor. to some extent on the quality of the heat sink used for the diode. • Phone [781] 376-3000 • Fax [781] 376-3100 • sales@skyworksinc. (It the energy reflected by the diode. or by diode junction is dominated by thermal diffusion. the effect is more gradual. • August 19.) junction. which determines what happens to ratio with a conventional multimeter to see if it is still a diode.) voltages. Inc.5 mil Because the capacitance of mixer diodes must be smaller at diameter). Some DVMs are just ature rise will be proportional to the square root of time for a as bad as multimeters.com 200826 Rev. This would appear to lead to much as 10 amperes of short circuit current in less than a the conclusion that the energy content of the RF pulse deter- nanosecond. APPLICATION NOTE • MIXER AND DETECTOR DIODES Burnout If the pulse length is longer than about 100 ns. temperatures on the order of 400 °C. and can be damaged by pulses. This effect can be avoided by using a push- For longer pulse lengths (5 ns to 100 ns) the temperature of the to-test switch across the diode when testing it in this way. from 1. A • Skyworks Proprietary Information • Products and Product Information are Subject to Change Without Notice. The discharge is usually sufficient to burn voltage) in the incoming RF pulse and pulse duration. both terminals of the circuit it goes into should be peak voltage (at the diode) less than the diode breakdown. Electrostatic discharge is becoming even more of a problem than it used to be. the worse the effect). For short pulses. For example. the burnout is not expected to which hit the diode. not protect itself as well as junction diodes.

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