Optical Engineering • Open Access • newReview of GaN-based devices for terahertz operation
GaN provides the highest electron saturation velocity, breakdown voltage, operation temperature, and thus the highest combined frequency-power performance among commonly used semiconductors. The industrial need for compact, economical, high-resolution, and high-power terahertz (THz) imaging and spectroscopy systems are promoting the utilization of GaN for implementing the next generation of THz systems. As it is reviewed, the mentioned characteristics of GaN together with its capabilities of providing high two-dimensional election densities and large longitudinal optical phonon of ∼90 meV make it one of the most promising semiconductor materials for the future of the THz emitters, detectors, mixers, and frequency multiplicators. GaN-based devices have shown capabilities of operation in the upper THz frequency band of 5 to 12 THz with relatively high photon densities in room temperature. As a result, THz imaging and spectroscopy systems with high resolution and deep depth of penetration can be realized through utilizing GaN-based devices. A comprehensive review of the history and the state of the art of GaN-based electronic devices, including plasma heterostructure field-effect transistors, negative differential resistances, hetero-dimensional Schottky diodes, impact avalanche transit times, quantum-cascade lasers, high electron mobility transistors, Gunn diodes, and tera field-effect transistors together with their impact on the future of THz imaging and spectroscopy systems is provided.