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VLSI Design
Volume 8 (1998), Issue 1-4, Pages 93-98

Cellular Automaton Study of Time-Dynamics of Avalanche Breakdown in IMPATT Diodes

1Walter Schottky Institute, Technical University of Munich, Garching 85748, Germany
2Electrical Engineering Department, Arizona State University, Tempe 85287-6206, AZ, USA
3Electrical Engineering Department, University of Rome, Tor Vergata, Rome 00133, Italy

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Employing a recently developed efficient cellular automaton technique for solving Boltzmann’s transport equation for realistic devices, we present a detailed study of the carrier dynamics in GaAs avalanche p-i-n (IMPATT) diodes. We find that the impact ionization in reverse bias p-i-n diodes with ultrathin (less than 50 nm) intrinsic regions is triggered by Zener tunneling rather than by thermal generation. The impact generation of hot carriers occurs mainly in the low-field junction regions rather than in the high field intrinsic zone. The calculations predict significantly more minority carriers on the n-side than on the p-side.