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We have carried out the time, temperature, and illumination dependencies of the current density in a semi-insulating GaAs sample grown at 300 °C under strong electric field. Standard ohmic behavior was observed at room temperature. A negative differential behavior as a function of the applied electric field was observed by lowering the temperature and increasing the photon flux, and this phenomenon was associated to the field-enhanced trapping effect. We have fit our data with a model for enhanced capture by a multiple-phonon emission capture process assisted by the applied electrical field. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.