Gallium nitride-based microwave high-power heterostructure field-effect transistors

M.C.J.C.M. Krämer

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 1 (Research TU/e / Graduation TU/e)

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The research described in this thesis has been carried out within a joint project between the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen (RU) and the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e) with the title: "Performance enhancement of GaN-based microwave power amplifiers: material, device and design issues". This project has been granted by the Dutch Technology Foundation STW under project number NAF 5040. The aims of this project have been to develop the technology required to grow state-of-the-art AlGaN/GaN epilayers on sapphire and semi-insulating (s.i.) SiC substrates using metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) and to fabricate microwave (f > 1 GHz) high-power (Pout > 10 W) heterostructure field-effect transistors (HFETs) on these epitaxial films. MOCVD growth of AlGaN/GaN epilayers and material characterization has been done within the group Applied Materials Science (AMS) of RU. Research at the Opto-Electronic Devices group (OED) of TU/e has focused on both electrical characterization of AlGaN/GaN epilayers and design, process technology development, and characterization of GaN-based HFETs and CPW passive components. Although a considerable amount of work has been done during this research with respect to processing of CPW passive components on s.i. SiC substrates, this thesis focused on active AlGaN/GaN devices only. GaN is an excellent option for high-power/high-temperature microwave applications because of its high electric breakdown field (3 MV/cm) and high electron saturation velocity (1.5 x 107 cm/s). The former is a result of the wide bandgap (3.44 eV at RT) and enables the application of high supply voltages (> 50 V), which is one of the two requirements for highpower device performance. In addition, the wide bandgap allows the material to withstand much higher operating temperatures (300oC - 500oC) than can the conventional semiconductor materials such as Si, GaAs, and InP. A big advantage of GaN over SiC is the possibility to grow heterostructures, e.g. AlGaN/GaN. The resulting two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) at the AlGaN/GaN heterojunction serves as the conductive channel. Large drain currents (> 1 A/mm), which are the second requirement for a power device, can be achieved because of the high electron sheet densities (> 1 x 1013 cm-2) and high electron saturation velocity. These material properties clearly indicate why GaN is a very suitable candidate for next-generation microwave high-power/high-temperature applications such as high-power amplifiers (HPAs) for GSM base stations, and microwave monolithic integrated circuits (MMICs) for radar systems. In this thesis we have presented the design, technology, and measurement results of n.i.d. AlGaN/GaN:Fe HFETs grown on s.i. 4H-SiC substrates by MOCVD. These devices have submicrometer T- or FP-gates with a gate length (Lg) of 0.7 µm and total gate widths (Wg) of 0.25 mm, 0.5 mm, and 1.0 mm, respectively. The 1.0 mm devices are capable of producing a maximum microwave output power (Pout) of 11.9 W at S-band (2 GHz - 4 GHz) using class AB bias conditions of VDS = 50 V and VGS = -4.65 V. It has to be noted that excellent scaling of Pout with Wg has been demonstrated. In addition, the associated power gain (Gp) ranges between 15 dB and 20 dB, and for the power added efficiency (PAE) values from 54 % up to 70 % have been obtained. These results clearly illustrate both the successful development of the MOCVD growth process, and the successful development and integration of process modules such as ohmic and Schottky contact technology, device isolation, electron beam lithography, surface passivation, and air bridge technology, into a process flow that enables the fabrication of state-of-the-art large periphery n.i.d. AlGaN/GaN:Fe HFETs on s.i. SiC substrates, which are perfectly suitable for application in e.g. HPAs at S-band.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Kaufmann, Leon, Promotor
  • Kohn, E., Promotor, External person
  • Karouta, Fouad, Copromotor
Award date10 Oct 2006
Place of PublicationEindhoven
Print ISBNs90-386-1893-X
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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