The planar GaAs Shottky diode frequency multiplier is a critical technology for the local oscillator (LO) for submillimeter-wave heterodyne receivers due to low mass, tenability, long lifetime, and room-temperature operation. The use of a W-band (75–100 GHz) power amplifier followed by a frequency multiplier is the most common for submillimeter-wave sources. Its greatest challenge is to provide enough input power to the LO for instruments onboard future planetary missions.

Recently, JPL produced 800 mW at 92.5 GHz by combining four MMICs in parallel in a balanced configuration. As more power at W-band is available to the multipliers, their power-handling capability becomes more important. High

operating temperatures can lead to degradation of conversion efficiency or catastrophic failure.

The goal of this innovation is to reduce the thermal resistance by attaching diamond film as a heat-spreader on the backside of multipliers to improve their power-handling capability. Polycrystalline diamond is deposited by hot-filament chemical vapor deposition (CVD). This diamond film acts as a heat-spreader to both the existing 250- and 300-GHz triplers, and has a high thermal conductivity (1,000–1,200 W/mK). It is approximately 2.5 times greater than copper (401 W/mK) and 20 times greater than GaAs (46 W/mK). It is an electrical insulator (resistivity ≈1015 Ω· cm), and has a low relative dielectric constant of 5.7.

Diamond heat-spreaders reduce by at least 200 oC at 250 mW of input power, compared to the tripler without diamond, according to thermal simulation. This superior thermal management provides a 100-percent increase in power-handling capability. For example, with this innovation, 40-mW output power has been achieved from a 250-GHz tripler at 350-mW input power, while the previous triplers, without diamond, suffered catastrophic failures. This breakthrough provides a stepping-stone for frequency multipliers-based LO up to 3 THz. The future work for this design is to apply the high output power from both the 250 and 300 GHz to multiple chains in order to generate milliwatts at 2–3 THz.

Using the first generation of results for this innovation, 40 mW of output power were produced from a 240-GHz tripler at 350-mW input power, and 27-mW output power was produced from a 300-GHz tripler at 408-mW input power. This is two times higher than the current state-of-the-art output power capability. A finite-element thermal simulation also shows that 30-μm thick diamond dropped the temperature of the anodes by at least 200 oC.

This work was done by Robert H. Lin, Erich T. Schlecht, Goutam Chattopadhyay, John J. Gill, Imran Mehdi, Peter H. Siegel, John S. Ward, Choonsup Lee, and Bertrand C. Thomas of Caltech and Alain Maestrini of University Pierre et Marie Curie Paris for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-46777.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2010 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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