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Varactor with integrated micro-discharge source

United States Patent

9,472,689
October 18, 2016
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
Sandia National Laboratories - Visit the Intellectual Property Management and Licensing Website
An apparatus that includes a varactor element and an integrated micro-discharge source is disclosed herein. In a general embodiment, the apparatus includes at least one np junction and at least one voltage source that is configured to apply voltage across the np junction. The apparatus further includes an aperture that extends through the np junction. When the voltage is applied across the np junction, gas in the aperture is ionized, forming a plasma, in turn causing a micro-discharge (of light, charge particles, and space charge) to occur. The light (charge particles, and space charge) impinges upon the surface of the np junction exposed in the aperture, thereby altering capacitance of the np junction. When used within an oscillator circuit, the effect of the plasma on the np-junction extends the capacitance changes of the np-junction and extends the oscillator frequency range in ways not possible by a conventional voltage controlled oscillator (VCO).
Elizondo-Decanini; Juan M. (Albuquerque, NM), Manginell; Ronald P. (Albuquerque, NM), Moorman; Matthew W. (Albuquerque, NM)
Sandia Corporation (Albuquerque, NM)
14/ 843,060
September 2, 2015
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL INTEREST This invention was developed under Contract DE-AC04-94AL85000 between Sandia Corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy. The U.S. Government has certain rights in this invention.