Commenced in January 2007
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Modeling and Design of E-mode GaN High Electron Mobility Transistors

Authors: Samson Mil'shtein, Dhawal Asthana, Benjamin Sullivan


The wide energy gap of GaN is the major parameter justifying the design and fabrication of high-power electronic components made of this material. However, the existence of a piezo-electrics in nature sheet charge at the AlGaN/GaN interface complicates the control of carrier injection into the intrinsic channel of GaN HEMTs (High Electron Mobility Transistors). As a result, most of the transistors created as R&D prototypes and all of the designs used for mass production are D-mode devices which introduce challenges in the design of integrated circuits. This research presents the design and modeling of an E-mode GaN HEMT with a very low turn-on voltage. The proposed device includes two critical elements allowing the transistor to achieve zero conductance across the channel when Vg = 0V. This is accomplished through the inclusion of an extremely thin, 2.5nm intrinsic Ga₀.₇₄Al₀.₂₆N spacer layer. The added spacer layer does not create piezoelectric strain but rather elastically follows the variations of the crystal structure of the adjacent GaN channel. The second important factor is the design of a gate metal with a high work function. The use of a metal gate with a work function (Ni in this research) greater than 5.3eV positioned on top of n-type doped (Nd=10¹⁷cm⁻³) Ga₀.₇₄Al₀.₂₆N creates the necessary built-in potential, which controls the injection of electrons into the intrinsic channel as the gate voltage is increased. The 5µm long transistor with a 0.18µm long gate and a channel width of 30µm operate at Vd=10V. At Vg =1V, the device reaches the maximum drain current of 0.6mA, which indicates a high current density. The presented device is operational at frequencies greater than 10GHz and exhibits a stable transconductance over the full range of operational gate voltages.

Keywords: compound semiconductors, device modeling, enhancement mode HEMT, gallium nitride

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