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The temperature distribution in multifinger high-power AlGaN/GaN heterostructure field-effect transistors grown on SiC substrates was studied. Micro-Raman spectroscopy was used to measure channel temperature with 1 μm spatial resolution, not possible using infrared techniques. Thermal resistance values were determined for four different device layouts with varying number of fingers, finger width, and spacing. The experimental thermal resistance was in fair agreement to that predicted by three-dimensional finite difference heat dissipation simulations. Uncertainties in thermal properties of this device system made simulation less reliable than experiment. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.