Reliable design of tunnel diode and resonant tunnelling diode based microwave sources

Wang, Liquan (2012) Reliable design of tunnel diode and resonant tunnelling diode based microwave sources. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis describes the reliable design of tunnel diode and resonant tunneling diode (RTD) oscillator circuits. The challenges of designing with tunnel diodes and RTDs are explained and new design approaches discussed. The challenges include eliminating DC instability, which often manifests itself as low frequency parasitic oscillations, and increasing the low output power of the oscillator circuits.
To stabilise tunnelling devices, a common but sometimes ineffective approach is the use of a resistor of suitable value connected across the device. It is shown in this thesis that this resistor tunnel diode circuit can be described by the Van der Pol model. Based on this model, design equations have been derived which enable the design of current-voltage (I-V) measurement circuits that are free from both low frequency bias oscillations and high frequency parasitic oscillations. In the conventional setup, the I-V characteristic of the tunnelling device is extracted from the measurement by subtracting from the measured current the current through the stabilising resistance at each bias voltage. In this thesis, also using the Van der Pol model, a circuit for the direct measurement of I-V characteristics is proposed. This circuit utilises a series resistor-capacitor combination in parallel with the tunnelling device for stabilisation. Experimental results show that IV characterisation of tunnel diodes in the negative differential resistance (NDR) region free from oscillations can be made.

A new test set-up suitable for radio frequency (RF) characterisation of tunnel diodes over the entire NDR region was also developed. Initial measurement results on a packaged tunnel diode indicate that accurate characterisation and subsequent small-signal equivalent circuit model extraction for the NDR region can be done.
To address the limitations of low output power of tunnel diode or RTD oscillators, a new multiple device circuit topology, incorporating a novel design methodology for the DC bias decoupling circuit, has been developed. It is based on designing the oscillator specifically for sinusoidal oscillations, and not relaxation oscillations which are also possible in tunnel diode oscillators. The oscillator circuit can also be described by the Van der Pol model which provides theoretical predictions of the maximum inductance, in terms of the tunnel diode device parameters, that is required to resonate with the device capacitance for sinusoidal oscillations. Each of the tunnel diodes in the multiple device oscillator circuit is decoupled from the others at DC and so can be stabilised independently. The oscillator topology uses parallel resonance but with each tunnel diode individually biased and DC decoupled making it possible to employ several tunnel diodes for higher output power. This approach is expected to eliminate parasitic bias oscillations in tunnel diode oscillators whilst increasing the output power of a single oscillator. Simulation and experimental oscillator results were in good agreement, with a two-tunnel diode oscillator exhibiting approximately double the output power as compared to that of a single tunnel diode oscillator, i.e. 3 dB higher.
Another method considered for the realisation of higher output power tunnel diode or RTD oscillators was series integration of the NDR devices. A new method to suppress DC instability of the NDR devices connected in series with all the devices biased in their NDR regions was investigated. It was successfully employed for DC characterisation with integrations of 2 and 5 tunnel diodes. Even though no suitable oscillator circuit topology and/or methodology with series-connected NDR devices could be established for single frequency oscillation, the achieved
results indicated that this approach may be worthy of further investigation.
The final aspect of this project focussed on the monolithic realisation of RTD oscillators. Monolithic oscillators in coplanar waveguide (CPW) technology were successfully fabricated and worked at a fundamental frequency of 17.5 GHz with -21.83 dBm output power. Finally, to assess the potential of RTD oscillators for high frequency signal generation, a theoretical analysis of output power of stabilised RTD oscillators was undertaken. This analysis suggests that it may be possible to realise RTD oscillators with high output power (0 dBm) at millimetre-wave and low terahertz (up to 1 THz) frequencies.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: RTD, DC characterisation, power combining
Subjects: T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering
Supervisor's Name: Wasige, Dr. Edward
Date of Award: 2012
Depositing User: Mr Liquan Wang
Unique ID: glathesis:2012-3423
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2012
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 14:06

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