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We report detailed investigations of low-frequency excess noise in GaN thin-film cross-bridge structures deposited by rf-plasma assisted molecular-beam epitaxy on top of an intermediate-temperature buffer layer (ITBL) grown at 690 °C. The experimental data indicates strong dependence of the voltage noise power spectra on the thickness of the ITBL with an optimal thickness of 800 nm. A model has been presented to account for the observed noise, which stipulates that the phenomenon arises from the thermally activated trapping and detrapping of carriers. The process results in the correlated fluctuations in both the carrier number and the Coulombic scattering rate. Detailed computation shows that number fluctuation dominates in our samples. Our numerical evaluation indicates a reduction in the trap density by over an order of magnitude with the use of an ITBL in the growth of GaN thin films. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.