The ebook FEEE - Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering and Electronics is based on material originally written by T.R. Kuphaldt and various co-authors. For more information please read the copyright pages.

RTD - Resonant Tunneling Diode

This is a quantum device not to be confused with the Esaki tunnel diode, a conventional heavily doped bipolar semiconductor. Electrons tunnel through two barriers separated by a well in flowing source to drain in a resonant tunneling diode. Tunneling is also known as quantum mechanical tunneling. The flow of electrons is controlled by diode bias. This matches the energy levels of the electrons in the source to the quantized level in the well so that electrons can tunnel through the barriers. The energy level in the well is quantized because the well is small. When the energy levels are equal, a resonance occurs, allowing electron flow through the barriers as shown in the Figure below (b). No bias or too much bias, in Figures below (a) and (c) respectively, yields an energy mismatch between the source and the well, and no conduction.

Resonant tunneling diode (RTD): (a) No bias, source and well energy levels not matched, no conduction. (b) Small bias causes matched energy levels (resonance); conduction results. (c) Further bias mismatches energy levels, decreasing conduction.

As bias is increased from zero across the RTD, the current increases and then decreases, corresponding to off, on, and off states. This makes simplification of conventional transistor circuits possible by substituting a pair of RTD's for two transistors. For example, two back-to-back RTD's and a transistor form a memory cell, using fewer components, less area and power compared with a conventional circuit. The potential application of RTD's is to reduce the component count, area, and power dissipation of conventional transistor circuits by replacing some, though not all, transistors. RTD's have been shown to oscillate up to 712 gHz.

Last Update: 2010-11-19