Degradation mechanisms limiting the electrical reliability of GaN high-electron-mobility transistors (HEMTs) are generally attributed to defect generation by hot-electrons but specific mechanisms for such processes have not been identified. Here we give a model for the generation of active defects by the release of hydrogen atoms that passivate pre-exisiting defects. We report first-principles density-functional calculations of several candidate point defects and their interaction with hydrogen in GaN, under different growth conditions. Candidate precursor point defects in device quality GaN are identified by correlating previously observed trap levels with calculated optical levels. We propose dehydrogenation of point defects as a generic physical mechanism for defect generation in HEMTs under hot-electron stress when the degradation is not spontaneously reversible. Dehydrogenation of point defects explains (1) observed hot electron stress transconductance degradation, (2) increase in yellow luminescence, and opposite threshold voltage shifts in devices where the material was grown under nitrogen- and ammonia-rich conditions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)