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Self-heating effects and temperature rise in AlGaN/GaN HEMTs grown on silicon and sapphire substrates are studied, exploiting transistor DC characterization methods. A negative differential output resistance is observed for high dissipated power levels. An analytical formula for a source-drain current drop as a function of parasitic source resistance and threshold voltage changes is proposed to explain this behavior. The transistor source resistance and threshold voltage is determined experimentally at different elevated temperatures to construct channel temperature versus dissipated power transfer characteristic. It is found that the HEMT channel temperature increases rapidly with dissipated power and at 6 W/mm reaches values of ∼320°C for sapphire and ∼95°C for silicon substrate, respectively.