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SOME APPLICATIONS OF PLANAR PN JUNCTION AS LIGHT EMITTERS IN SPACE RESEARCH.
MILAN UNIV (ITALY)
Apart from conventional applications, silicon PN junctions are used in Nuclear and Cosmic Ray Physics as particle and photon detectors. These latter applications are valuable for space research where PN junctions may be conveniently used because of their low power consumption, low weight and ruggedness. Nevertheless in cosmic-ray satellite experiments, photomultipliers are frequently to be preferred to solid state detectors since their gain is intrinsically noiseless. Owing to the duration of these experiments, photomultipliers require calibration to compensate for gain variations due to aging effects as well as to the severe environmental conditions influencing the photomultiplier and its associated electronic circuitry. In view of this, research is carried out to establish the possibility of using planar PN junctions as standard light generators when sufficient inverse voltage is applied to produce breakdown. In this report preliminary results on the characteristics of light emission and a few possible applications in space research are described.