Employing a recently developed efficient cellular automaton technique for solving Boltzmann's transport equation for realistic devices, we present a detailed study of the carrier dynamics in GaAs avalanche p-i-n (IMPATT) diodes. We find that the impact ionization in reverse bias p-i-n diodes with ultrathin (less than 50 nm) intrinsic regions is triggered by Zener tunneling rather than by thermal generation. The impact generation of hot carriers occurs mainly in the low-field junction regions rather than in the high field intrinsic zone. The calculations predict significantly more minority carriers on the n-side than on the p-side.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-98
Number of pages6
JournalVLSI Design
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - 1998


  • Avalanche breakdown
  • Cellular Automata
  • IMPATT diodes
  • Impact ionization
  • Zener tunneling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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