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Investigation of Bulk Indium Antimonide as Heterodyne Detector for the Submillimeter Wavelength Region


Brown, Elliott R. (1985) Investigation of Bulk Indium Antimonide as Heterodyne Detector for the Submillimeter Wavelength Region. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/wm40-4k69.


Bulk n-InSb is investigated at a heterodyne detector for the submillimeter wavelength region. Two modes of operation are investigated: (1) the Rollin or hot electron bolometer mode (zero magnetic field), and (2) the Putley mode (quantizing magnetic field). The highlight of the thesis work is the pioneering demonstration or the Putley mode mixer at several frequencies. For example, a double-sideband system noise temperature of about 510K was obtained using a 812 GHz methanol laser for the local oscillator. This performance is at least a factor or 10 more sensitive than any other performance reported to date at the same frequency. In addition, the Putley mode mixer achieved system noise temperatures of 250K at 492 GHz and 350K at 625 GHz. The 492 GHz performance is about 50% better and the 625 GHz is about 100% better than previous best performances established by the Rollin-mode mixer. To achieve these results, it was necessary to design a totally new ultra-low noise, room-temperature preamp to handle the higher source impedance imposed by the Putley mode operation. This preamp has considerably less input capacitance than comparably noisy, ambient designs.

In addition to advancing receiver technology, this thesis also presents several novel results regarding the physics of n-InSb at low temperatures. A Fourier transform spectrometer was constructed and used to measure the submillimeter wave absorption coefficient of relatively pure material at liquid helium temperatures and in zero magnetic field. Below 4.2K, the absorption coefficient was found to decrease with frequency much faster than predicted by Drudian theory. Much better agreement with experiment was obtained using a quantum theory based on inverse-Bremmstrahlung in a solid. Also the noise of the Rollin-mode detector at 4.2K was accurately measured and compared with theory. The power spectrum is found to be well fit by a recent theory of non-equilibrium noise due to Mather. Surprisingly, when biased for optimum detector performance, high purity InSb cooled to liquid helium temperatures generates less noise than that predicted by simple non-equilibrium Johnson noise theory alone. This explains in part the excellent performance of the Rollin-mode detector in the millimeter wavelength region.

Again using the Fourier transform spectrometer, spectra are obtained of the responsivity and direct detection NEP as a function of magnetic field in the range 20-110 cm-1. The results show a discernable peak in the detector response at the conduction electron cyclotron resonance frequency for magnetic fields as low as 3 KG at bath temperatures of 2.0K. The spectra also display the well-known peak due to the cyclotron resonance of electrons bound to impurity states. The magnitude of responsivity at both peaks is roughly constant with magnet1c field and is comparable to the low frequency Rollin-mode response. The NEP at the peaks is found to be much better than previous values at the same frequency and comparable to the best long wavelength results previously reported. For example, a value NEP = 4.5 x 10-13W/Hz1/2 is measured at 4.2K, 6 KG and 40 cm-1. Study of the responsivity under conditions of impact ionization showed a dramatic disappearance of the impurity electron resonance while the conduction electron resonance remained constant. This observation offers the first concrete evidence that the mobility of an electron in the N = 0 and N = 1 Landau levels is different. Finally, these direct detection experiments indicate that the excellent heterodyne performance achieved at 812 GHz should be attainable up to frequencies of at least 1200 GHz.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Applied Physics, Indium antimonide
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Applied Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Phillips, Thomas G.
Group:Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Phillips, Thomas G. (chair)
  • Yariv, Amnon
  • Rutledge, David B.
  • Bellan, Paul Murray
  • Johnson, William Lewis
Defense Date:6 May 1985
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:07172014-130847340
Persistent URL:
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URLURL TypeDescription adapted for part of thesis. adapted for part of thesis. adapted for part of thesis. adapted for part of thesis.
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8553
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:18 Jul 2014 14:29
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:20

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