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This paper deals with a p-n junction device which will be called a "Step Recovery Diode" because its conductivity variation during reverse recovery approximates a step function. The transition from reverse storage conduction to cutoff for this diode can occur in about a nanosecond, and it can produce associated discontinuities up to about an ampere and/or a hundred volts. This step recovery action can be conveniently used to generate waveforms which are very rich in high-order harmonics in the gigacycle region. In many cases it offers considerable advantage in circuit simplicity and power-handling capability over alternative diode harmonic generators. This paper is concerned with the factors that go into the appropriate mating of this diode with its circuit, and with evaluation of the performance that can be achieved. As a by-product of this analysis, a generalized evaluation of rectification efficiency is obtained which is useful for many conventional semiconductor diodes in conventional rectifier circuits. This analysis also leads to a convenient method for evaluating the lifetime of semiconductor diodes, which is particularly useful in the fractional nanosecond range because it separates out capacitive effects.