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Determination of Threshold Failure Levels of Semiconductor Diodes and Transistors Due to Pulse Voltages

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2 Author(s)
D. C. Wunsch ; Braddock, Dunn and McDonald, Inc. El Paso, Texas ; R. R. Bell

Theoretical predictions of circuit failure in an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) environment require a knowledge of failure levels for each component of the circuit due to surge voltages or currents. For most circuits, the semiconductor devices are the weakest elements with respect to such failure. This paper presents the results of an extensive experimental program to determine pulse power failure levels of semiconductor junctions. Approximately 80 different types of silicon diodes and transistors were studied with variations in junction areas from 10-4to 10-1 cm2 and with widely varying junction geometries. Power levels of up to two kilowatts, with time durations of 0.1 to 20 microseconds, were applied to semiconductor junctions in both forward and reverse polarity modes. A semi-empirical formula, based on experimental data and on a simple thermal failure model is given. From the formula one can make order-of-magnitude estimates of the failure level as a function of pulse length for many silicon diodes or transistors whose junction area is known.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science  (Volume:15 ,  Issue: 6 )