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The GaAs nonlinear transmission line (NLTL) is a monolithic millimeter-wave integrated circuit consisting of a high-impedance transmission line loaded by reverse-biased Schottky contacts. The engineering of functional monolithic NLTLs is considered. Through generation of shock waves on the NLTL, the authors have generated electrical step functions with approximately 5 V magnitude and less than 1.4 ps fall time. Diode sampling bridges strobed by NLTL shock-wave generators have attained bandwidths approaching 300 GHz and have applications in instruments for millimeter-wave waveform and network measurements. The authors discuss the circuit design and diode design requirements for picosecond NLTL shock-wave generators and NLTL-driven sampling circuits.