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Al/sub 0.4/Ga/sub 0.6/N/GaN heterostructure field-effect transistors (HFETs) with an AlGaN barrier thickness of 8 nm and a gate length (L/sub G/) of 0.06-0.2 μm were fabricated on a sapphire substrate. We employed two novel techniques, which were thin, high-Al-composition AlGaN barrier layers and SiN gate-insulating, passivation layers formed by catalytic chemical vapor deposition, to enhance high-frequency device characteristics by suppressing the short channel effect. The HFETs with L/sub G/=0.06-0.2 μm had a maximum drain current density of 1.17-1.24 A/mm at a gate bias of +1.0 V and a peak extrinsic transconductance of 305-417 mS/mm. The current-gain cutoff frequency (fT) was 163 GHz, which is the highest value to have been reported for GaN HFETs. The maximum oscillation frequency (fmax) was also high, and its value derived from the maximum stable gain or unilateral gain was 192 or 163 GHz, respectively.