Design considerations for gallium arsenide pulse compression photoconductive switch

Yicong Dong, Karen M. Dowling, Stefan P. Hau-Riege, Adam Conway, Lars F. Voss, Shaloo Rakheja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we present the physics and design-space exploration of a novel pulse compression photoconductive switch (PCPS) using semi-insulating gallium arsenide (GaAs) operating in the negative differential mobility (NDM) regime of electron transport. We systematically quantify the relationship between the PCPS performance and various design options, including contact separation, laser energy and placement, and trap dynamics. Specifically, we report the full-width at half-maximum and the peak output current generated by the PCPS as a function of applied electrical and optical bias. We discuss the optimal spacing between the electrodes and the distance of the laser spot to the anode to achieve higher electron confinement and superior radio-frequency (RF) metrics. Reducing the laser energy is important to prevent the appearance of secondary peaks due to diffusive transport, but there exists a trade-off between the bandwidth and the maximum current of the PCPS. We also compare the PCPS response with and without trap dynamics and find that the electrostatic screening from the trap-induced space charge is time-independent when the trapping time constant is set larger than the recombination lifetime. Overall, trap dynamics are detrimental to performance, unless the compensation doping scheme to achieve semi-insulating GaAs is carefully selected. Results presented in this paper can be used by experimentalists to fine-tune the PCPS design parameters to meet the specifications of various RF applications. Moreover, our results will provide a strong theoretical basis to the measurements of PCPS devices using GaAs and other NDM materials under investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134504
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number13
StatePublished - Apr 7 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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