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Published August 21, 2001 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

New tunnel diode for zero-bias direct detection for millimeter-wave imagers


High-resolution passive millimeter wave imaging cameras require per pixel detector circuitry that is simple, has high sensitivity, low noise, and low power. Detector diodes that do not require bias or local oscillator input, and have high cutoff frequencies are strongly preferred. In addition, they must be manufacturable in large quantities with reasonable uniformity and reproducibility. Such diodes have not been obtainable for W-band and above. We are developing zero-bias square-law detector diodes based on InAs/Alsb/GaAlSb heterostructures which for the first time offer a cost-effective solution for large array formats. The diodes have a high frequency response and are relatively insensitive to growth and process variables. The large zero- bias non-linearity in current floor necessary for detection arises from interband tunneling between the InAs and the GaAlSb layers. Video resistance can be controlled by varying an Alsb tunnel barrier layer thickness. Our analysis shows that capacitance can be further decreased and sensitivity increased by shrinking the diode area, as the diode can have very high current density. DC and RF characterization of these devices and an estimate of their ultimate frequency performance in comparison with commercially available diodes are presented.

Additional Information

© 2001 Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers. Partial support for this work was provided by the National Reconnaissance Office under Contract No. NRO000-00-C-0071, the Army Research Laboratory under Contract No. DAAL01-94-C-0100, and Trex Enterprises Corporation.

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