Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Electrical Engineering

Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Elias Stefanakos, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

D. Yogi Goswami, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Andrew Hoff, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jiangfeng Zhou, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Manoj Ram, Ph.D.


Langmuir Blodgett thin films, quantum mechanics, selective emitter, tunnel diode


Energy harvesting using rectennas for infrared radiation continues to be a challenge due to the lack of fast switching diodes capable of rectification at THz frequencies. Metal insulator metal diodes which may be used at 30 THz must show adequate nonlinearity for small signal rectification such as 30 mV. In a rectenna assembly, the voltage signal received as an output from a single nanoantenna can be as small as ~30µV. Thus, only a hybrid array of nanoantennas can be sufficient to provide a signal in the ~30mV range for the diode to be able to rectify around 30THz. A metal-insulator-metal diode with highly nonlinear I-V characteristics is required in order for such small signal rectification to be possible. Such diode fabrication was found to be faced with two major fabrication challenges. The first one being the lack of a precisely controlled deposition process to allow a pinhole free insulator deposition less than 3nm in thickness. Another major challenge is the deposition of a top metal contact on the underlying insulating thin film. As a part of this research study, most of the MIM diodes were fabricated using Langmuir Blodgett monolayers deposited on a thin Ni film that was sputter coated on a silicon wafer. UV induced polymerization of the Langmuir Blodgett thin film was used to allow intermolecular crosslinking. A metal top contact was sputtered onto the underlying Langmuir Blodgett film assembly. In addition to material characterization of all the individual films using IR, UV-VIS spectroscopy, electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy, the I-V characteristics, resistance, current density, rectification ratio and responsivity with respect to the bias voltage were also measured for the electrical characterization of these MIM diodes.

Further improvement in the diode rectification ratio and responsivity was obtained with Langmuir Blodgett films grown by the use of horizontally oriented organic molecules, due to a smaller tunneling distance that could be achieved in this case. These long chain polymeric molecules exhibit a two-dimensional molecular assembly thereby reducing the tunneling distance between the metal electrodes on either side of the insulating layer. Rectification ratios as high as 450:1 at ±200mV were obtained for an MIM diode configuration of Ni-LB films of Arachidic Acid films-(Au/Pd).

The bandwidth of the incident radiation that can be used by this rectenna assembly is limited to 9.5% of 30THz or ±1.5THz from the center frequency based on the antenna designs which were proposed for this research. This bandwidth constraint has led to research in the field of frequency selective emitters capable of providing a narrowband emission around 30THz.

Several grating structures were fabricated in the form of Ni-Si periodic arrays, in a cleanroom environment using photolithography, sputtering and deep reactive ion etching. These frequency selective samples were characterized with the help of focusing optics, monochromators and HgCdTe detectors. The results obtained from the emission spectra were utilized to calibrate a simulation model with Computer Simulation Technology (CST) which uses numerous robust solving techniques, such as the finite element method, in order to obtain the optical parameters for the model. Thereafter, a thorough analysis of the different dimensional and material parameters was performed, to understand their dependence on the emissivity of the selective emitter.

Further research on the frequency selectivity of the periodic nano-disk or nano-hole array led to the temperature dependence of the simulated spectra, because the material parameters, such as refractive index or drude model collision frequency, vary with temperature. Thus, the design of frequency selective absorbers/emitters was found to be significantly affected with temperature range of operation of these structures.