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Characteristics of trap-filled gallium arsenide photoconductive switches used in high gain pulsed power applications

Description: The electrical properties of semi-insulating (SI) Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) have been investigated for some time, particularly for its application as a substrate in microelectronics. Of late this material has found a variety of applications other than as an isolation region between devices, or the substrate of an active device. High resistivity SI GaAs is increasingly being used in charged particle detectors and photoconductive semiconductor switches (PCSS). PCSS made from these materials operating in both the linear and non-linear modes have applications such as firing sets, as drivers for lasers, and in high impedance, low current Q-switches or Pockels cells. In the non-linear mode, it has also been used in a system to generate Ultra-Wideband (UWB) High Power Microwaves (HPM). The choice of GaAs over silicon offers the advantage that its material properties allow for fast, repetitive switching action. Furthermore photoconductive switches have advantages over conventional switches such as improved jitter, better impedance matching, compact size, and in some cases, lower laser energy requirement for switching action. The rise time of the PCSS is an important parameter that affects the maximum energy transferred to the load and it depends, in addition to other parameters, on the bias or the average field across the switch. High field operation has been an important goal in PCSS research. Due to surface flashover or premature material breakdown at higher voltages, most PCSS, especially those used in high power operation, need to operate well below the inherent breakdown voltage of the material. The lifetime or the total number of switching operations before breakdown, is another important switch parameter that needs to be considered for operation at high bias conditions. A lifetime of {approximately} 10{sup 4} shots has been reported for PCSS's used in UWB-HPM generation [5], while it has exceeded 10{sup 8} shots for electro-optic drivers. ...
Date: May 30, 2000
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