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Session 1

Session Name: Gunn Diode

Author Name: Dr. I. Srinivasa Rao
Department: School of Electronics Engineering
Subject/Course: Microwave Engineering

Session Objectives
At the end of this session, the learner will be able to:
Define Gunn Effect.
Identify the importance of semi conducting materials like GaAs, InP etc.
Elucidate the theory of operation of Gunn diode.
Illustrate the formation of Gunn domains.
List the different applications of Gunn diode.

Teaching Learning Material

Presentation Slides
2D Animation Video
Board and Chalk

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Gunn Diode
Dr. I. Srinivasa Rao, VIT University

Session Plan
(in min)


Learning Aid


Typical Student


Learning Outcomes
(Blooms + Gardeners)



Recap: Tunnel Diode

2D Animation


Introduction to Gunn

Chalk and Talk







Theory & Operation

of Gunn Diode

Formation of Gunn


2D Animation

Group View

Recall by Key








Gunn Diode
Dr. I. Srinivasa Rao, VIT University

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Session Inputs
Recap: Tunnel Diode
Since the learners are familiar with Tunnel diode operation, the
same can be recapped through an animation and an interactive
Suggested Activity: 2D Animation and Quiz
Download the flash animation from the following link and play the
animation of operation of Tunnel diode, so that learners can recap.
Link: http://www.mission10x.com/mission-10x/Documents/Tunnel_Diode.swf
Ask some questions related to the Tunnel Diode. Some of the sample
questions for the quiz could be as follows:
1. What is tunneling effect?
2. What is the effect of high doping to a semiconductor?
3. What is the advantage of having negative resistance region for
tunnel diode?
4. List the applications of tunnel diode
The possible answers from the learners could be:
1. It refers to the phenomena of a particle's ability to penetrate energy
barriers within electronic structures.
2. Effects:
It reduces the width of the depletion region to a small value
It reduces the reverse breakdown voltage to a small value
It exhibits an important feature of negative resistance over a
portion of its I-V characteristics
3. It is able to produce oscillations of high frequency.
4. Applications:
It can be used as an ultra high speed switch
It can be used as logic memory storage device
It can be used in RF & Microwave oscillator circuits.

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Gunn Diode
Dr. I. Srinivasa Rao, VIT University

Introduction to Gunn Diode

Having recapitulation of tunnel diode, we shall now focus on
Gunn diode and transferred electron mechanism. We can start
with the history of the electron mechanism through the chalk and
talk methodology.
In 1963 J. B. Gunn discovered the transferred electron
mechanism, since then we are calling it as Gunn Effect.
The device that uses Gunn Effect known as Gunn Diode or
Transferred Electron Device.
In the transferred electron mechanism, the conduction of
electrons of some semiconductors is shifted from a state of
high mobility to a state of low mobility by the influence of
strong electric field.
This process is known as Gunn Effect. During this process
negative resistance occurs at some point of critical
Gunn diode is only found in N-type semiconductor
materials, so that it must be associated with electrons rather
than with holes.
For better understanding of the learners knowledge, it would be
a good idea to ask the learners to list out the semiconductor
devices that exhibit negative resistance region in its V-I
characteristics. We can list their responses on the board.
The semiconductor devices that exhibit negative resistance are:
1. Uni Junction Transistor
2. Silicon Control Rectifier
3. Tunnel diode
4. Gunn diode
5. IMPATT diode
6. TRAPATT diode
7. BARIT diode

Theory and Operation of Gunn Diode

We shall now introduce the various materials used for the
preparation of Gunn diode and we can depict the energy band

Gunn Diode
Dr. I. Srinivasa Rao, VIT University

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diagram of GaAs material with the help of a PPT presentation.

Show the following figure in the PPT and explain it in the black

In N-type GaAs the valence band is filled with electrons

and conduction band is partly filled.
The forbidden energy gap between valence band and
conduction band is about 1.43 eV.
In ordinary semiconductors conduction band is the highest
energy band.
But in N-type GaAs the conduction band consists of
different energy levels.
Here conduction band is referred to as central valley.
Above the conduction band we have another higher
empty energy band separated by 0.3 eV from conduction
This empty energy band is referred as satellite valley. In the
satellite valley mobility of electrons is less than central
For better explanation, the operation of the Gunn diode can be
illustrated by showing an animation.

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Gunn Diode
Dr. I. Srinivasa Rao, VIT University

Suggested Activity: 2D Animation

Get the animation from the following link:
Link: http://www.mission10x.com/mission-10x/Documents/Gunn%20diode1.swf
We can play the animation of operation of Gunn diode with proper
explanation in the middle, so that the learners can easily understand the
whole concept. Animation at different stages is shown with the help of the
following figures

1. On application of electric filed or voltage across the GaAs

slice, electrons start travel from cathode to anode.
2. The greater the potential across the slice, the higher is the

Gunn Diode
Dr. I. Srinivasa Rao, VIT University

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velocity of electrons and therefore greater the current.

3. Once the electrons have gained enough energy i.e. at the
threshold level, they transferred to higher energy band that
is to satellite valley from central valley
4. In the satellite valley electrons become less mobile and so
get slowed down. Now there is a fall in current and thus
negative resistance is exhibited
5. As the voltage rises further, the gradient become sufficient
to remove electrons from the satellite valley so that current
again starts rising with voltage

Formation of Gunn Domains

After the above animation, the learners are familiar with the
operation of Gunn diode. Now the formation of Gunn domains
can be introduced with a group view activity.
Suggested Activity: Group View
Here the learners are divided into 4 groups and subjected to the interactive
discussion about the conditions, difficulties and limitations for the formation
of Gunn domains. All learners have to think what will happen when doping
concentration is not uniform?

Formation of Gunn domains can be easily understand with the

help of the following figure:

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Gunn Diode
Dr. I. Srinivasa Rao, VIT University

1. Domain is a bunch of electrons. Negative resistance effect

in the Gunn diode is mainly because of formation of
2. In a heavily doped N-type GaAs slice, it is realistic to
assume that the density of doping material may not be
uniform throughout the GaAs sample.
3. The region where the impurity concentration is less
becomes less conductive than other regions of the sample.
So the resistance of this region is high. As a result the
voltage drop across this region is high compared with other
4. If we start rising D.C. voltage across the GaAs sample,
current start rising. Further increase in the DC voltage
causes a high voltage drop across this region, which means
a high electric field is set up inside the region.
5. With this electric field electrons in the conduction band
have enough energy to jump into the higher energy levels
i.e. to the satellite valley.
6. Now current inside the less conductive region starting to
decrease and this region will become a negative
resistance domain. Such a domain is very unstable. This
high energetic bunch comes out as a pulse of voltage.
7. If a suitable tank circuit is connected at the output of the
diode, this pulse turns tank circuit into oscillating mode.

We can conclude the session by revising the key concepts
discussed in the session by using the following recall by key words
Suggested Activity: Recall by Key Words
We can list the following key words discussed in the session, randomly pick
a learner for every keyword and ask the learner to tell something about the
key word.
Transferred electron effect or Gunn effect
GaAs or InP
Satellite valley
Gunn domain
Gunn oscillator

Gunn Diode
Dr. I. Srinivasa Rao, VIT University

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In this session, we learnt to:
Define Gunn Effect.
Classify the importance of highly doped semiconductor devices like
GaAs, InP, GaN, etc.
Describe the operation of Gunn diode.
Identify the conditions for the formation of Gunn domain.
List the applications of Gunn diode.

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Gunn Diode
Dr. I. Srinivasa Rao, VIT University

1. Why Gunn Effect is associated only with electrons rather than holes?
2. What is the concentration of doping used for Gunn diode? What will
happen if doping concentration decreases?
3. Compare the Tunnel diode and Gunn diode.
4. List the various limitations of Gunn diode in the generation of MW
power and MW oscillations.

Gunn Diode
Dr. I. Srinivasa Rao, VIT University

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Solid State Electronic Devices by Benz. Streetman
Physics of Semiconductor Devices by S. M. Sze
Microwave Devices and Circuits by Samuel Y. Leo

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Gunn Diode
Dr. I. Srinivasa Rao, VIT University