According to wikipedia, a tunnel diode is a PN junction whose energies are shifted with bias, while a resonant tunneling diode is a quantum well between a double barrier, whose energies change with bias.

Moreover, from wikipedia:

An RTD can be fabricated using many different types of materials (such as III-V, type IV, II-VI semiconductor) and different types of resonant tunneling structures (such as the heavily doped pn junction in Esaki diodes, double barrier, triple barrier, quantum well, quantum wire or quantum dot).

so an Esaki diode (tunnel diode) is also resonating..? Doesn't it make them the same thing? i.e. isn't the mechanism that's responsible for the negative differential resistance is the same for both of them?

  • $\begingroup$ Would Electrical Engineering be a better home for this question? $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Nov 22, 2014 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ I'd say it's in the grey area... I will consider next time. $\endgroup$
    – Sparkler
    Nov 22, 2014 at 15:39

1 Answer 1


An RTD is a special type of TD, and a double barrier is just one of many possible implementations of resonant tunneling.

An RTD is called "resonant" because (under certain conditions) the transmission function is equal to one, i.e. complete transmission. This happens due to wave-like interference between the two barriers. Hence called "resonant": the phase difference causes constructive interference. This is somehow similar to thin-film interference.


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