A Magnetic Sensor Utilizing an Avalanching Semiconductor Device
by A. W. Vinal
A new semiconductor device for sensing uniaxial magnetic fields has been realized. The device is basically a dual-collector open-base lateral bipolar transistor operating in the avalanche region, and is referred to as a Magnetic Avalanche Transistor. It exhibits high magnetic transduction sensitivity compared to traditional Hall-effect and conventional nonlinear magnetoresistive devices. Several hundred experimental devices have been designed, fabricated, and tested over the past two years. Many structural and some process parameters were varied. The magnetic sensitivity of a typical device was found to be proportional to substrate resistivity. A sensitivity of 30 volts per tesla was measured for devices which used 5-ohm-cm p-type substrates. The output signal measured between collectors is differential and responds linearly with field magnitude and polarity. A typical signal-to-noise ratio is 20,000 per tesla. The bandwidth is known to extend well beyond 5 MHz. The sensitive area is calculated to be on the order of 5 μm2. This communication describes the basic structure, fabrication, and characteristics for the magnetic avalanche transistor.