Date of Award

Summer 7-15-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering

First Advisor

Garret Moddel

Second Advisor

Wounjhang Park

Third Advisor

Alan Mickelson

Abstract

Optical rectennas, which are micro-antennas to convert optical-frequency radiation to alternating current combined with ultrahigh-speed diodes to rectify the current, can in principle provide high conversion efficiency solar cells and sensitive detectors. Currently investigated optical rectennas using metal/insulator/metal (MIM) diodes are limited in their RC response time and poor impedance matching between diodes and antennas. A new rectifier, the geometric diode, can overcome these limitations. The thesis work has been to develop geometric diode rectennas, along with improving fabrication processes for MIM diode rectennas. The geometric diode consists of a conducting thin-film, currently graphene, patterned into a geometry that leads to diode behavior. In contrast with MIM diodes that have parallel plate electrodes, the planar structure of the geometric diode provides a low RC time constant, on the order of 10-15 s, which permits operation at optical frequencies. Fabricated geometric diodes exhibit asymmetric DC current-voltage characteristics that match well with Monte Carlo simulations based on the Drude model. The measured diode responsivity at DC and zero drain-source bias is 0.012 A/W. Since changing the gate voltage changes the graphene charge carrier concentration and can switch the majority charge type, the rectification polarity of the diode can be reversed. Furthermore, the optical rectification at 28 THz has been measured from rectennas formed by coupling geometric diodes with graphene and metal bowtie antennas. The performance of the rectenna IR detector is among the best reported uncooled IR detectors. The noise equivalent power (NEP) of the rectenna detector using geometric diode was measured to be 2.3 nW Hz-1/2. Further improvement in the diode and antenna design is expected to increase the detector performance by at least a factor of two. Applications for geometric diodes and graphene bowtie antennas include detection of terahertz and optical waves, ultra-high speed electronics, and optical power conversion.

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