Accurate quantum transport modelling and epitaxial structure design of high-speed and high-power In0.53Ga0.47As/AlAs double-barrier resonant tunnelling diodes for 300-GHz oscillator sources

Cimbri, Davide (2023) Accurate quantum transport modelling and epitaxial structure design of high-speed and high-power In0.53Ga0.47As/AlAs double-barrier resonant tunnelling diodes for 300-GHz oscillator sources. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2023CimbriPhD.pdf] PDF
Download (27MB)


Terahertz (THz) wave technology is envisioned as an appealing and conceivable solution in the context of several potential high-impact applications, including sixth generation (6G) and beyond consumer-oriented ultra-broadband multi-gigabit wireless data-links, as well as highresolution imaging, radar, and spectroscopy apparatuses employable in biomedicine, industrial processes, security/defence, and material science. Despite the technological challenges posed by the THz gap, recent scientific advancements suggest the practical viability of THz systems. However, the development of transmitters (Tx) and receivers (Rx) based on compact semiconductor devices operating at THz frequencies is urgently demanded to meet the performance requirements calling from emerging THz applications.

Although several are the promising candidates, including high-speed III-V transistors and photo-diodes, resonant tunnelling diode (RTD) technology offers a compact and high performance option in many practical scenarios. However, the main weakness of the technology is currently represented by the low output power capability of RTD THz Tx, which is mainly caused by the underdeveloped and non-optimal device, as well as circuit, design implementation approaches. Indeed, indium phosphide (InP) RTD devices can nowadays deliver only up to around 1 mW of radio-frequency (RF) power at around 300 GHz. In the context of THz wireless data-links, this severely impacts the Tx performance, limiting communication distance and data transfer capabilities which, at the current time, are of the order of few tens of gigabit per second below around 1 m.

However, recent research studies suggest that several milliwatt of output power are required to achieve bit-rate capabilities of several tens of gigabits per second and beyond, and to reach several metres of communication distance in common operating conditions. Currently, the shortterm target is set to 5−10 mW of output power at around 300 GHz carrier waves, which would allow bit-rates in excess of 100 Gb/s, as well as wireless communications well above 5 m distance, in first-stage short-range scenarios. In order to reach it, maximisation of the RTD highfrequency RF power capability is of utmost importance. Despite that, reliable epitaxial structure design approaches, as well as accurate physical-based numerical simulation tools, aimed at RF power maximisation in the 300 GHz-band are lacking at the current time.

This work aims at proposing practical solutions to address the aforementioned issues. First, a physical-based simulation methodology was developed to accurately and reliably simulate the static current-voltage (IV ) characteristic of indium gallium arsenide/aluminium arsenide (In-GaAs/AlAs) double-barrier RTD devices. The approach relies on the non-equilibrium Green’s function (NEGF) formalism implemented in Silvaco Atlas technology computer-aided design (TCAD) simulation package, requires low computational budget, and allows to correctly model In0.53Ga0.47As/AlAs RTD devices, which are pseudomorphically-grown on lattice-matched to InP substrates, and are commonly employed in oscillators working at around 300 GHz. By selecting the appropriate physical models, and by retrieving the correct materials parameters, together with a suitable discretisation of the associated heterostructure spatial domain through finite-elements, it is shown, by comparing simulation data with experimental results, that the developed numerical approach can reliably compute several quantities of interest that characterise the DC IV curve negative differential resistance (NDR) region, including peak current, peak voltage, and voltage swing, all of which are key parameters in RTD oscillator design.

The demonstrated simulation approach was then used to study the impact of epitaxial structure design parameters, including those characterising the double-barrier quantum well, as well as emitter and collector regions, on the electrical properties of the RTD device. In particular, a comprehensive simulation analysis was conducted, and the retrieved output trends discussed based on the heterostructure band diagram, transmission coefficient energy spectrum, charge distribution, and DC current-density voltage (JV) curve. General design guidelines aimed at enhancing the RTD device maximum RF power gain capability are then deduced and discussed.

To validate the proposed epitaxial design approach, an In0.53Ga0.47As/AlAs double-barrier RTD epitaxial structure providing several milliwatt of RF power was designed by employing the developed simulation methodology, and experimentally-investigated through the microfabrication of RTD devices and subsequent high-frequency characterisation up to 110 GHz. The analysis, which included fabrication optimisation, reveals an expected RF power performance of up to around 5 mW and 10 mW at 300 GHz for 25 μm2 and 49 μm2-large RTD devices, respectively, which is up to five times higher compared to the current state-of-the-art. Finally, in order to prove the practical employability of the proposed RTDs in oscillator circuits realised employing low-cost photo-lithography, both coplanar waveguide and microstrip inductive stubs are designed through a full three-dimensional electromagnetic simulation analysis.

In summary, this work makes and important contribution to the rapidly evolving field of THz RTD technology, and demonstrates the practical feasibility of 300-GHz high-power RTD devices realisation, which will underpin the future development of Tx systems capable of the power levels required in the forthcoming THz applications.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported by funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) grant agreement no. 765426.
Subjects: T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Electronics and Nanoscale Engineering
Supervisor's Name: Wasige, Professor Edward and Cumming, Professor David
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83642
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2023 06:49
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2023 08:11
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83642
Related URLs:

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year