# Gunn Diodes

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

Metal n-type GaAs Metal

Metal n-type GaAs I Metal

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

Metal n-type GaAs I Metal

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

Metal n-type GaAs I Metal

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

20 16 Current (mA) 12

jp = qnovp

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

.

Short-pulse current waveform in Gunn experiment

Physical mechanism of the Gunn effect

2

GaAs
μ = 0.85 m 2 /Vs

1.5

1

0.5

μ = 0.5 m /Vs

2

Si
2 4 6 8 10 12 14

Electric field (kV/cm)

Electron drift velocity – Electric field dependence in GaAs

Current voltage characteristic of GaAs sample in strong electric fields

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

μ = 0.85 m /Vs

2

μ = 0.85 m /Vs

2

1

Current

1.5

1.5

1

0.5

μ = 0.5 m 2 /Vs

0.5

μ = 0.5 m 2 /Vs

2

4

6

8

10

12

14

2

4

6

8

10

12

14

Electric field (kV/cm)

Electric field (kV/cm) Voltage

Such an assumption is wrong.

Space charge instability in semiconductors with negative differential mobility (NDM)
2

μ = 0.85 m /Vs
1.5

2

1

0.5

μ = 0.5 m /Vs

2

2

4 FC

6

8

10

12

14

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

Space charge instability in semiconductors with NDM

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

+
F0 ≈ Fc x

v0 = vm x

n0 = N D x

v vm F F Fc v

+
F0 ≈ Fc x

v0 = vm x

n

∂F ρ n − ND =− =q ε ε0 ε ε0 ∂x

n0 = N D x

v vm F F Fc v

+
F0 ≈ Fc x

v0 = vm x

n n0 = N D x

v vm F F Fc v

+
F0 ≈ Fc x

v0 = vm x

n n0 = N D x

v vm vs F Fc v F

+
F0 ≈ Fc x

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

v vm vs F Fc v F

+
F0 ≈ Fc x

v0 = vm vs x

n n0 = N D x

v vm vs F Fc v F

+
F0 ≈ Fc x

v0 = vm vs x

n n0 = N D x

Current – time dependence in the sample with high-filed domain

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

+
F0 ≈ Fc x

Current at the device electrodes:

IV= q n vs

Current – time dependence in the sample with high-filed domain

v vm vs F Fc v F

+
F0 ≈ Fc x

v0 = vm x

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

Im = q n vm

Current – time dependence in the sample with high-filed domain

20

v
Current (mA)

vm vs

16 12

jp = qnovp

Im = q n vm IV = q n vs

js = qnovs
8 4

.

Fc

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

Transit-time oscillations in Gunn diodes
20

L
Current (mA)

16 12

jp = qnovp

GD

RL

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

.

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

Transit-time oscillation issues:
20

L
Current (mA)

16 12

jp = qnovp

GD

RL

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

.

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

Resonator-controlled oscillations in Gunn diodes

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

Highly-efficient Limited –Space charge- Accumulation mode

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

Highly-efficient Limited –Space charge- Accumulation mode

Achieved frequencies: up to 100 GHz

Kroemer criterion in the Gunn effect
Concentration

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

Field

Cathode Distance

Anode

ε ε0 td ≈ Rd Cd = q n0 | μ d |

Cdd== C

ε ε0 S εS Ld L

Domain formation time is equal to td (so-called Maxwell relaxation time); n0 is the equilibrium electron concentration, μd is the differential electron mobility. In GaAs, typically, |μd| ≈ 2000 сm2/(V×s)

Kroemer criterion in the Gunn effect
Characteristic domain transit time in the sample of the length L:

Concentration

Accumulation Layer Depletion Layer

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

Field

td ≈ Rd Cd =
Cathode Distance Anode

ε ε0 q n0 μ d

Kroemer criterion for domain formation:

L

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

εε 0 vs = q | μd |

Stable Gunn diodes - amplifiers
If the Kroemer criterion is not met:

no L <

εε 0 vs q | μd |

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

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

Stable Gunn diodes - amplifiers

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

Stable Gunn diodes – travelling space-charge wave amplifiers

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

Gunn diode mode of operation – parameter map
I.

no L > =

εε 0 vs q | μd |

Gunn diode works as an oscillator

The mode of operation depends on the relationship between the resonant frequency of the attached resonant circuit f0 and the domain formation time: ε ε0

td =

q n0 μ d

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

II.

no L <

εε 0 vs q | μd |

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