Advanced GaN HEMTs for high performance microwave power amplifiers

Elksne, Maira (2020) Advanced GaN HEMTs for high performance microwave power amplifiers. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The ever increasing demand for high power levels at higher frequencies from the industry has stimulated extensive research in gallium nitride (GaN) transistor technology over the past two decades. This has led to significant advances of the technology, but the degradation in the device performance due to device self-heating and trap generation in the device epilayers during device operation is still a major challenge with the current GaN high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) technology.
This thesis focuses on minimising device self-heating effects by means of efficient heat distribution within the device. Two approaches are analysed in this work. Firstly, the impact on the device DC performance of improved wafer growth conditions by using method called hot-wall MOCVD (metal organic chemical vapour deposition) are investigated. It was found that 2 µm × 100 µm devices on this wafer exhibit only 4% degradation in the saturated output current density at 20 V compared with 13% for devices fabricated on a wafer grown by standard MOCVD growth. This improved performance was attributed to lower thermal boundary resistance achieved by improved growth quality of the epitaxial material layers. In the second approach, the impact on self-heating was investigated through the use of a distributed device channel, i.e. introducing inactive regions along the device channel to distribute the hot spots in the device. Here a planar isolation method was used to achieve planar distributed gate devices that led to low leakage currents below 200 nA/mm at gate voltage of -20 V. A decrease in the peak channel temperature of 30°C was found through thermal simulations over a single 100 µm wide gate finger. Moreover, these distributed channel devices with gate periphery of 10 ×100 µm showed 13 % higher saturated current density than standard devices with the same active device area.

The other major issue addressed in this thesis is the so-called current collapse which is a degradation in the output current caused by electron trapping in the device structure. An alternative solution to the conventionally used dielectric passivation is proposed and it entails the use of a thick undoped GaN cap layer to reduce the surface effects by moving the surface further away from the device channel. Drain lag measurements show 15% and 35% decrease in the current at quiescent bias decrease points of [-7 V; 10 V] and [-7 V; 20 V] respectively for the proposed structure compared with 80% decrease and complete current collapse at these quiescent bias points in the same geometry devices on a standard wafer with 2 nm GaN cap layer and a thin 10 nm thin SiNx passivation, respectively. The 10 nm thin passivation layer does not minimise the surface effects, but it protects the devices from oxidation.
Finally, a single stage class A amplifier was demonstrated using the developed technology exhibiting peak output power of 30 dBm at 10 GHz and associated power added efficiency of 44% and gain of 10 dB. Also, gain of at least 9.4 dB was shown over 8-13 GHz bandwidth.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: GaN HEMTs, current collapse, low leakage currents, distributed channel, MMIC.
Subjects: T Technology > T Technology (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Electronics and Nanoscale Engineering
Supervisor's Name: Wasige, Prof. Edward
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Dr Maira Elksne
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81920
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2021 17:11
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2021 17:42
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.81920
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/81920
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