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High-electric-field degradation phenomena are investigated in GaN-capped AlGaN/GaN HEMTs by comparing experimental data with numerical device simulations. Under power- and OFF-state conditions, 150-h DC stresses were carried out. Degradation effects characterizing both stress experiments were as follows: a drop in the dc drain current, the amplification of gate-lag effects, and a decrease in the reverse gate leakage current. Numerical simulations indicate that the simultaneous generation of surface (and/or barrier) and buffer traps can account for all of the aforementioned degradation modes. Experiments also showed that the power-state stress induced a drop in the transconductance at high gate-source voltages only, whereas the OFF-state stress led to a uniform transconductance drop over the entire gate-source-voltage range. This behavior can be reproduced by simulations provided that, under the power-state stress, traps are assumed to accumulate over a wide region extending laterally from the gate edge toward the drain contact, whereas, under the OFF-state stress, trap generation is supposed to take place in a narrower portion of the drain-access region close to the gate edge and to be accompanied by a significant degradation of the channel transport parameters.
Date of Publication: July 2008