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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Cycling excitation process: An ultra efficient and quiet signal amplification mechanism in semiconductor

  • Author(s): Liu, YH
  • Yan, L
  • Zhang, AC
  • Hall, D
  • Niaz, IA
  • Zhou, Y
  • Sham, LJ
  • Lo, YH
  • et al.

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© 2015 AIP Publishing LLC. Signal amplification, performed by transistor amplifiers with its merit rated by the efficiency and noise characteristics, is ubiquitous in all electronic systems. Because of transistor thermal noise, an intrinsic signal amplification mechanism, impact ionization was sought after to complement the limits of transistor amplifiers. However, due to the high operation voltage (30-200 V typically), low power efficiency, limited scalability, and, above all, rapidly increasing excess noise with amplification factor, impact ionization has been out of favor for most electronic systems except for a few applications such as avalanche photodetectors and single-photon Geiger detectors. Here, we report an internal signal amplification mechanism based on the principle of the phonon-assisted cycling excitation process (CEP). Si devices using this concept show ultrahigh gain, low operation voltage, CMOS compatibility, and, above all, quantum limit noise performance that is 30 times lower than devices using impact ionization. Established on a unique physical effect of attractive properties, CEP-based devices can potentially revolutionize the fields of semiconductor electronics.

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