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The relationship between hot-carrier-induced drain current degradation and characterization drain voltage is investigated in n-channel metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistors fabricated using 0.18 μm technology. The results show that the maximum drain current degradation occurs at a characterization drain voltage that is higher than 0.1 V. This finding is attributed to two competing mechanisms as the characterization drain voltage increases: the reduction in channel inversion charges and the reduction in charged interface states. The convergence of the saturation-region drain current and linear-region drain current degradation is more evident when the device is under stress at higher temperature and forward body bias. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.