Date of Award

8-1-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Ahmed, Shaikh

Abstract

AlGaN based nanoscale high-electron-mobility transistors (HEMTs) are the next generation of transistor technology that features the unique combination of higher power, wider bandwidth, low noise, higher efficiency, and temperature/radiation hardness than conventional AlGaAs and Si based technologies. However, as evidenced by recent stress tests, reliability of these devices (characterized by a gradual decrease in the output current/power leading to failure of the device in just tens of hours of operation) remains a major concern. Although, in these tests, physical damages were clearly visible in the device, the root cause and nature of these damages have not yet been fully assessed experimentally. Therefore, a comprehensive theoretical study of the physical mechanisms responsible for degradation of AlGaN HEMTs is essential before these devices are deployed in targeted applications. The main objective of the proposed research is to computationally investigate how degradation of state-of-the-art nanoscale AlGaN HEMTs is governed by an intricate and dynamical coupling of thermo-electromechanical processes at different length (atoms-to-transistor) and time (femtosecondto- hours) scales while operating in high voltage, large mechanical, and high temperature/radiation stresses. This work centers around a novel hypotheses as follows: High voltage applied to AlGaN HEMT causes excessive internal heat dissipation, which triggers gate metal diffusion into the semiconducting barrier layer and structural modifications (defect ii formation) leading to diminished polarization induced charge density and output current. Since the dynamical system to be studied is complex, chaotic (where the evolution rule is guided by atomicity of the underlying material), and involve coupled physical processes, an in-house multiscale simulator (QuADS 3-D) has been employed and augmented, where material parameters are obtained atomistically using firstprinciples, structural relaxation and defect formations will be modeled by integrating molecular dynamics, and the influence of atomistic processes on charge and phonon transport and current degradation will be simulated using a coupled drift-diffusionthermodynamic framework.

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