tunnel diode

(redirected from tunnel diodes)
Also found in: Dictionary.
Related to tunnel diodes: Varactor diode

tunnel diode:

see diodediode
, two-terminal electronic device that permits current flow predominantly in only one direction. Most diodes are semiconductor devices; diode electron tubes are now used only for a few specialized applications.
..... Click the link for more information.
.

Tunnel Diode

 

(or Esaki diode), a two-terminal semiconductor electron device in which there exists an extremely thin potential barrier to electron flow (seeSEMICONDUCTOR DIODE).

The transport characteristic (the volt-ampere curve) of a tunnel diode is governed primarily by the quantum-mechanical tunneling process, which permits electrons to penetrate from one allowed energy region to the other through the barrier. The discovery of the tunnel diode in 1957 by L. Esaki provided the first convincing demonstration of electron tunneling in solids.

The construction of the tunnel diode became possible as a result of advances in semiconductor technology that permitted the

< u1,="">< u2="">< u3)""="" height="304" width="322">
Figure 1. Energy diagrams for a tunnel-diode p-n junction at various bias voltages (0 < U1, < U2 < U3): (Efp) Fermi level for holes, (Efn) Fermi level for electrons, (Eg) width of energy gap, (W) width of p-n junction, (e) charge of electron, (it) tunnel current, (id) diffusion current

obtaining of semiconductor materials with sufficiently well-defined electronic properties. By doping the semiconductor with large amounts of the appropriate impurities, Esaki succeeded in making the densities of holes and electrons in the p- and n-regions, respectively, extremely high while maintaining an abrupt transition from one region to the other. If the width of the junction is very small (50–150 angstroms) and the concentration of doping agents is sufficiently high, the current through the tunnel diode is dominated by electron tunneling.

Figure 1 shows simplified energy diagrams for such p-n junctions at four different bias voltages U. As the bias is increased to the voltage U1, the interband tunnel current (it, in Figure 1,b) increases. With a further increase in the applied voltage to, say, U2 (Figure 1,c), the conduction band in the n-region becomes uncrossed with the valence band in the p-region, and the current decreases because of the lack of allowed states of corresponding energies for tunneling. In this region of the volt-ampere characteristic, the tunnel diode exhibits a negative resistance. When the voltage reaches or exceeds U3 (Figure l,d), the normal diffusion (or thermal) current dominates, as in the case of the usual p-n diode.

The first tunnel diode, which was constructed in 1957, was made of Ge. Several other semiconductor materials, however, were soon found to be suitable for obtaining tunnel diodes. Such materials include Si, InSb, GaAs, InAs, PbTe, GaSb, and SiC. Figure 2 gives the volt-ampere characteristics for tunnel diodes made from some of these materials.

Figure 2. Volt-ampere characteristics of various tunnel diodes: (1) Ge diode, (2) GaSb diode, (3) Si diode, (4) GaAs diode; (U) applied bias voltage, (I/Im) ratio of current through diode and current at maximum of volt-ampere characteristic

Since the tunnel diode exhibits a differential negative resistance with a rapid response, it is capable of serving as an active element for amplification, oscillation, and switching in electronic circuits at high frequencies.

REFERENCES

Esaki, L. “New Phenomenon in Narrow Germanium p-n Junctions.” Physical Review, 1958, vol. 109, no. 2.
Esaki, L. “Long Journey Into Tunneling.” Reviews of Modem Physics, 1974, vol. 46, no. 2.

L. ESAKI

tunnel diode

[′tən·əl ‚dī‚ōd]
(electronics)
A heavily doped junction diode that has a negative resistance at very low voltage in the forward bias direction, due to quantum-mechanical tunneling, and a short circuit in the negative bias direction. Also known as Esaki tunnel diode.
References in periodicals archive ?
This structure based tunnel diode shows great promise as an oscillator and high-frequency threshold (trigger) device since it can be operated at frequencies far greater than the tetrode would, well into the microwave bands.
Woodall, Gallium arsenide deep-level pin tunnel diode with very negative conductance", Electronics letters, sept.
Esaki tunnel diodes, discovered in 1957 and the first quantum devices, were used to create a map showing output tunnel currents for a given set of material systems and parameters.
Based on the best available rise time at amplitude in Table 1, it is clear that avalanche transistors, tunnel diodes and step recovery diodes are the best choices for low power ultra-short pulse generation.
However, the disadvantage of using a tunnel diode is its low output voltage of 0.
report observing on an atomic scale the same odd electronic behavior that occurs in macroscopic tunnel diodes, which are millions of times larger.
The results showed that boron-free sites flanked by boron-occupied sites behaved as atomic-scale tunnel diodes.
n+GaInP/p+GaAs tunnel diodes were fabricated for carbon kinetics.
Additionally, n+GaInP/p+GaAs tunnel diodes have been developed using Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) in order to determine the behavior of carbon dopant in GaAs under high-density minority-carrier injection.
1,2] The IF/RF signal is detected by the active tunnel diode detector [3,4] and linearly amplified by [A.