Robustness of PIN Limiter Diodes to an ESD Event Based on VF-TLP Characterization

Shubhankar Marathe, Diwakar Saxena, David Johannes Pommerenke, Wei Huang, Guido Notermans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PIN limiter diodes are primarily used for protection from excess RF power in RF circuits. These diodes are positioned onboard at the I/O lines of the RF circuits. If an ESD event occurs, the first line of protection is offered by the PIN limiter diode. The main questions addressed in this letter are: Can the PIN limiter diode protect the RF circuit against ESD? If yes, then what is their ESD robustness? How do they compare against the standard ESD protection TVS diodes? This knowledge can guide the reader to understand whether or not the PIN limiter diode can help prevent ESD damage. The robustness of the diodes is investigated experimentally using a very fast transmission line pulse tester with a 10 ns pulse width and about 300-400 ps rise time. These diodes are tested for their withstand current, turn-on time at 1 A current, turn-on voltage, voltage clamp at 1 A current, capacitance, signal bandwidth, and effective package inductance. These diode parameters are essential in quantifying the component-level response of a device under test. This letter shows that the PIN limiter diodes are not a suitable replacement for the TVS diodes as an intentional ESD protection device. In case an ESD event occurs, these diodes are robust to ESD current levels up to 2.5-9 A and offer limited protection. They may effectively complement the TVS protection by offering a fast turn-on time and protection up to a certain ESD level, after which the (slower) TVS takes over.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9 - 13
JournalIEEE Letters on Electromagnetic Compatibility Practice and Applications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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