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Nonlinearities in p-i-n microwave photodetectors

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3 Author(s)
Williams, K.J. ; Naval Res. Lab., Washington, DC, USA ; Esman, R.D. ; Dagenais, M.

The nonlinearities in p-i-n photodetectors have been measured and numerically modeled. Harmonic distortion measurements were made with two single-frequency offset-phased-locked Nd:YAG lasers which provide a source dynamic range greater than 130 dB and a 1 MHz-50 GHz frequency range. Carrier transport is analytically described by three coupled nonlinear differential equations, Poisson's equation and the hole and electron continuity equations. These equations are numerically solved to investigate and isolate the various nonlinear mechanisms. The numerical solution incorporates diffusion since our treatment includes carrier generation in the highly doped p-region of the device. This p-region absorption and carrier-dependent carrier velocities associated with a perturbed electric field (due to space-charge and loading effects) are shown to dominate photodetector nonlinear behavior. The numerical model was extended to predict that maximum photodetector currents of 100 mA should be possible in 20 GHz bandwidth devices before a sharp increase in nonlinear output occurs. In addition, second harmonic distortion improvements of 40-60 dB may be possible if photodetectors can be fabricated with strictly-depleted absorbing regions

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Lightwave Technology, Journal of  (Volume:14 ,  Issue: 1 )