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Evaluation and characterization of Silicon MESFETs in low dropout regulators

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The partially-depleted (PD) silicon Metal Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor (MESFET) is becoming more and more attractive for analog and RF applications due to its high breakdown voltage. Compared to conventional CMOS high voltage transistors, the silicon MESFET can be fabricated

The partially-depleted (PD) silicon Metal Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor (MESFET) is becoming more and more attractive for analog and RF applications due to its high breakdown voltage. Compared to conventional CMOS high voltage transistors, the silicon MESFET can be fabricated in commercial standard Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) CMOS foundries without any change to the process. The transition frequency of the device is demonstrated to be 45GHz, which makes the MESFET suitable for applications in high power RF power amplifier designs. Also, high breakdown voltage and low turn-on resistance make it the ideal choice for switches in the switching regulator designs. One of the anticipated applications of the MESFET is for the pass device for a low dropout linear regulator. Conventional NMOS and PMOS linear regulators suffer from high dropout voltage, low bandwidth and poor stability issues. In contrast, the N-MESFET pass transistor can provide an ultra-low dropout voltage and high bandwidth without the need for an external compensation capacitor to ensure stability. In this thesis, the design theory and problems of the conventional linear regulators are discussed. N-MESFET low dropout regulators are evaluated and characterized. The error amplifier used a folded cascode architecture with gain boosting. The source follower topology is utilized as the buffer to sink the gate leakage current from the MESFET. A shunt-feedback transistor is added to reduce the output impedance and provide the current adaptively. Measurement results show that the dropout voltage is less than 150 mV for a 1A load current at 1.8V output. Radiation measurements were done for discrete MESFET and fully integrated LDO regulators, which demonstrate their radiation tolerance ability for aerospace applications.

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2013