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Rosa Lahiji EECS521 winter 2003 Abstract- Capacitive modulation of the charge in the conductive channel is the basic principle of all the FET devices. Applying this concept to different geometries and using different material and doping profiles would result the variety of the FET transistors. In each type of FET the confinement of the channel charge and the isolation between the gate and channel, would result a novel device with specific properties. High Electron Mobility Transistor (HEMT) as a member of this family is studied in this report. The basic of operation, modeling the 2DEG, DC, high frequency and Noise models, fabrication and application of the HEMT, and specifically AlGaAs/GaAs HEMT is reviewed. A preliminary design of a single channel HEMT is investigated and the dependence of its properties on several parameter such as doping, composition and geometrical dimensions is studied.
Key Words- FET, HEMT, MODFET, 2DEG
I. Introduction Since the invention of the transistor, there has been a great deal of activities and progresses in the semiconductor theory and technology. Different varieties of devices and material have been investigated. Among these semiconductor materials, the compound semiconductor showed very attractive electrical and optical characteristics. Hetero-structure devices that include HEMT are a product of this Technology. GaAs-based high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) are rapidly replacing the conventional MESFET technology in military and commercial application requiring low noise figures and high gain particularly at millimeter and microwave frequencies.
HEMT, also called Modulation Doped Field Effect Transistor (MODFET) has attained a serious interest during late 70’s, when it has been demonstrated that high mobility can be achieved using heterojunctions. In this report the principles of the Field Effect Transistor as a basic element for demonstrating the operational concepts will be described generally. Then the idea of MODFET on GaAs and its characteristics will be discussed. The properties of the AlGaAs/GaAs interface and the growth and fabrication techniques are reviewed. Then the approaches toward modeling the 2D Electron Gas (2DEG) concentration in a single channel HEMT will be described. Modeling the DC and high frequency of a single channel HEMT structure is introduced, along with a brief study of the noise sources of the MODFET structure. A quick review on the design approaches and some of the application of HEMT structure and the state of art characteristics guide us toward a preliminary design of a AlGaAs/GaAs HEMT. Then the effect of the different parameters such as doping, thickness, material and composition has been investigated. II. Principles of FET The concept of the operation of many electronic devices lay upon the modulation of either the current flowing through the device or the voltage at the output terminal. In the case of a field effect transistor, (Fig.1), the current flowing between two terminals (Source and Drain) is controlled by the voltage applied to the third terminal,
the Gate. The contact of the source and drain metal is ohmic, while the gatesemiconductor junction should have a Schottkey barrier with rectifying characteristics. Also since the electron mobility is much larger than the hole, the nchannel devices are normally considered. At zero bias there could be a depletion of electrons within a depth in the channel, which is related to different parameters such as the gate material and the interface properties. The current flows from source to drain through the channel. The resistance of the channel (e.g. the available path for the current) is controlled by the width of depletion region, through the gate voltage. Now by applying a voltage on the gate electrode (Vg) the depth of the depletion region, and therefore the conductive portion of the channel would vary. With Vg<0, the depletion region would further grow in to the channel, while narrowing the path for the electrons to flow and therefore increasing the resistance of the channel. The voltage, at which the whole channel is depleted, is referred to as the pinch-off voltage (Vp). Applying a positive voltage to the drain would attract and collect the electrons to form the conduction current. By increasing the drain voltage, the electric field across the channel would increase, and so would the velocity of the electrons. The voltage distribution across the channel would cause the difference between the gate electrode and the channel voltage along the channel length. This would result the different depth of the depletion region along the channel, which would increase toward the drain, as shown in Fig.1. Further increasing the drain voltage would cause the channel pinch-off and the channel to be a resistive pass for the current. Increasing the Vds beyond this voltage won’t change the current much, since the pinch-off point would move toward the source and the voltage would drop across the depletion region. This
Depletion Region Source
N-type Channel Semi-insulating Substrate
Fig.1 The schematic of a Field Effect transistor.
(d) Fig.2 The I-V characteristic of a FET, as Vds increases.
voltage generates an electric field across the depletion region, which would guarantee the continuity of the current. Although increasing the gate voltage would decrease the depth of the depletion region in to the channel. This would reduce the resistance of the channel, and so the better capabilities of current derive. Fig.2.
III. High Electron Mobility Transistor A. Principle In each type of FET the confinement of the channel charge and the isolation between the gate and channel, would result a novel device with specific properties. In a Heterostructure Field Effect Transistor (HFET), a wide band gap semiconductor separates the gate electrode from the active channel. A High Electron Mobility Transistor (HEMT) as a HFET device consists of several layers of compound semiconductor as shown in Fig.3. An active channel is formed at the interface of the buffer layer of GaAs and the doped, wide band gap material, such as AlGaAs. The donor layer of n-AlGaAs supplies the electrons for the channel conduction. These free electrons are allowed to move in the lattice and will fall in the lowest energy state, which is available at the GaAs side of the hetero-junction. The thickness of this layer is about 100A, which is much smaller then Broglie wavelength of the electrons. Therefore the electrons are quantized in a 2D system at the interface of the hetero-junction, known as 2D Electron Gas (2DEG) Fig.4. This separation of the electrons from the ionized donor impurities would result less impurity scattering and therefore higher mobility and effective velocity of electrons for a certain electric field. This sheet of high electron mobility can be served as the channel of a FET, and can be modulated through the gate voltage. Usually there is an un-doped spacer layer with the thickness of 20-60A, in between the buffer and the donor layer. The presence of such a layer would reduce the Columbic scattering caused by the electrical interaction between the electrons and the donors by further separating them. The thickness of this layer is set in a way that
both the saturation velocity and the mobility are maximized. Also in this structure a semi-insulating material is used as a substrate in order to have isolation between the adjacent devices.
Fig.3 Schematic of a heterostructure FET.
Fig.4 The energy band diagram of doped AlGaAs (wide band gap), GaAs (small band gap) and their heterostructure and the formation of 2DEG.
B. Hetero-junction characteristics When a semiconductor is epitaxially deposited on another semiconductor with the same orientation but different physical property, the atoms of the both sides of the interface adjust themselves during the interface formation. In order to produce a high quality hetero-junction some physical parameters such as the elastic constant, thermal expansion and lattice parameter have to be considered. To prevent the misfit dislocations at the interface, the lattice
matching should be achieved by proper selecting the composition of the material. Also the ability of the reproducing such a growth process should be considered. As the strength of the interfacial bonding increases, the epitaxial deposit would be strained homogeneously, or Pseudomorphic. This structure has its unique properties, for better carrier transport in channel, which is outside the topic of this report. One of the most widely used and bestunderstood compound materials is the Al xGa1− x As / GaAs hetero-structure, which for all the composition factors between 0 and 1 has a perfect lattice match as shown in Fig.4. Al xGa1− x As / GaAs has a Zincblende crystal structure and its characteristics can be derived based on the composition factor x, from the table below. C. GaAs properties and applications GaAs is a compound material of the IIIV group, with the energy band gap of 1.424ev at 300K, and the Zincblende crystal structure with the lattice constant of 5.65325A. While most compounds lack the good native oxide as Silicon does (SiO2), but having certain properties distinguished them as a perfect material for the microwave and millimeter-wave monolithic integrated circuits as in high speed digital circuits. Most of the compound materials such as GaAs, are direct band gap, which results in superior opto-electronic properties, higher low-field mobility characteristics, hence, less parasitic resistances and higher peak velocity that leads to a higher speed device and operating frequencies. In spite of its higher cost, relative to silicon, GaAs is the preferred material for monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs). GaAs epiwafers are used in cellular phones, satellites, radar systems and various electronic
devices. GaAs is also the material of choice for lasers and LEDs. The broad range of opto-electronic applications includes lasers for fiber optic communications, optical storage, solid state laser pumping, compact discs, and indicators in appliances, automobiles, traffic signals and commercial displays. D. Modeling In order to find proper models for the device, the distribution of the charge must be derived for the conducting channel. The donor doping, composition factor, thickness of the donor region, as well as the background doping in the channel would determine this distribution. In the linear region the DC model’s drain current is described by a square law, while in saturation region the drain current is proportional to the HEMT’s 2DEG density n s . This parameter can be calculated or modeled in different ways, which few of them are mentioned here. With a self-consistent 1D quantum mechanical solution of the Poisson and Schrodinger equations, the band configuration, and the charge distribution is determined. ε .(V g − Vth ) ns = q(d d + d i + ∆d ) Which ∆d is the effective thickness of the 2DEG sheet charge. Solving for the free electron concentration through the poisons and Schrodinger equation would result:
* E f − En 4πk bTme ne = .∑n ξ n2 l ln(1 + exp ) kT h2
Replacing this value in the Poisson’s ∂ 2V qρ f = 0 ) would result the equation ( 2 − ε ∂z
potential distribution. Knowing the potential, the other parameters can be calculated. This is a general method of solution for HEMTs, while in literature different approaches are mentioned which some of them are numerically fitted to the observations. Here are some other approaches an example: cVt n s (Vt ) = 2 3 1 + aVt + bVt Which a, b, and c are constants and Vt is normally the gate potential V g , but restricted to the maximum value of VSO = 3 2 b . In another model for small drain currents, Weiler and Ayasli (1984) have proposed a numerical model for the I-V characteristic of an intrinsic MODFET, as shown in Fig. Which is especially defined for microwave application. In this numerical model the saturation channel charge is given by:
Qss (VG ) = eZ ∫ N s ( z )dz
Increasingly precise film thickness was required for ever-faster processors. To meet these needs, A.Y. Cho perfected molecular beam epitaxy, a UHV technique that could produce single-crystal growth one atomic layer at a time. The MBE process frees molecules of an element by heating it in an effusion cell, or oven. Some of these molecules would escape into a chamber with a vacuum so intense that the freed molecules were drawn into a linear "beam". A wafer is mounted in the center of this beam and the freed molecules could then be deposited one layer at a time directly on top each other.
F. Noise in MODFETs
Where Z and L g are the width and length of the gate metal, and N s ( z ) is the 2DEG density as a function of the position along the channel. Using the saturation current SAT I DS (VG ) at the maximum gate voltage VG ,max and at VG ,max − ∆V , Transconductance
The MODFET/HEMT structure has proved to have less noise devices, although they are not noise free. In order to be able to model the noise of a device, the noise sources should be recognized. In a MODFET four main noise sources are recognized: 1. Johnson/Thermal noise due to the Ohmic region of the channel (vd21 ) . 2. Noise associated with the spontaneous generation of dipole layers in the saturation region, also called diffusion noise (vd22 ) . 3. Gate noise due to the elementary voltage fluctuation in the channel (i g21 ) . 4. Induced gate noise in the saturation region (i g22 ) . Of course these noise sources are correlated, which the correlation coefficients are given in different texts. By defining the noise representative sources, the noise figure of the device can be calculated.
G. Al xGa1− x As / GaAs HEMT Application
and gate capacitance can be computed as: SAT SAT I DS (VG ,max ) − I DS (VG ,max − ∆V ) gm = ∆V Qss (VG ,max ) − Qss (VG ,max − ∆V ) C gs = ∆V The ∆V = 0.1v was used for this numerical method.
Research into epitaxy continued to be fueled as demand grew for multilayer semiconductors and semi-insulators.
As mentioned before there are different applications of HEMT devices, in analog, digital, low noise and low power circuits, as well as in microwave and millimeter wave application. But as discussed before and
observed in the text, the use of multichannel HEMT, Pseudomorphic and quasiPseudomorphic devices are generalized to a great extent. As an application of a single channel HEMT with a good noise figure the following structure has been proposed, and fabricated. A low noise AlGaAs/GaAs HEMT with 0.1µm gate length and a T-shape gate structure has been successfully developed. This device had the noise figure of 0.51dB and 1.9dB at 18GHz and 40GHz respectively, and at the room temperature. The gain of 10.8dB at 18GHz and 5.3dB at 40GHz has been reported. Table.1 below shows the specification of the device.
Table.1 The physical parameters of the low noise single channel HEMT design. Parameter Value 0.1µm 0.1µm 0.3 100°A
2.5 × 1018 / cm 3
Fig.6 The noise figure and the gain of the HEMT vs. the gate resistance.
GaAs buffer layer thickness x n − Al x Ga1− x As Thickness n − Al x Ga1− x As Doping
n − GaAs Cap thickness n − GaAs Doping Mesa etch S/D separation Gate width
300°A 4 × 10 18 / cm 3 0.3µm 3µm 200µm
The cross section of the HEMT is shown in theFig.5. The test fixture has been biased at the drain voltage of 3v, and the drain current of 10mA. The gain and noise figure vs. the gate resistance, gate voltage and frequency is plotted as shown in Fig.6, 7, and 8 respectively.
Fig.7 The noise figure and the gain of the HEMT vs. the drain voltage.
Fig.5 The cross section of the HEMT.
Fig.8 The noise figure and the gain of the HEMT vs. the frequency.
IV. Simulations As the second phase of the project, and based on the structures designed, fabricated and reported in the texts, a single channel HEMT is chosen as the base design and the effect of different parameter such as doping, composition and the geometrical dimensions are investigated, through simulations performed. As the simulator the MEDICI 2000.4 is used. Fig.9 shows a preliminary design based on an investigation of different designs for a single channel HEMT, with the modified dimensions as specified in Hisao Kawasa et al,  and shown in the Table.1. The etch depth is selected to be 200°A, while the thickness of the GaAs layer beneath the gate is 100°A. The un-doped GaAs region of the thickness 0.1µm, followed by 0.2µm of GaAs substrate forms the structure. Although it seems to be an inverted HEMT structure at the first place, but the result of the simulations for the electron density and the current indicates that a good sheet carrier concentration forms in the lower un-doped GaAs material. Increasing the gate voltage of the device would reduce the depth of the depletion region in to the device and result a parasitic channel to form through the GaAs layer just below the gate electrode. So this device can be considered as an inverted, isolated gate HEMT. Since most of the current path is through the high doped GaAs CAP layer for positive voltages, the series resistance contribution is very small, which also results in the lower noise of the device. The result of a simulation in MEDICI for this structure, by applying a low voltage to the drain (0.05v), while sweeping the gate voltage from –0.5 (below the threshold) up to 1v, and plotting the I d − V g is the gate
GaAs AlGaAs i-GaAs
Fig.9 The preliminary design of a HEMT structure.
Fig.10 The gate characteristics of the preliminary designed structure.
characteristic of the device, and is depicted in Fig.10. By drawing a tangential line to the curve as shown in the graph of Fig.10, the threshold voltage of the device is derived, which in this case is about VT = −0.25v .
Fig.11 The contours of the current flowing in the device at VGS = 0.5v .
During this simulation the contours of the current flowing in the device is monitored, which provides a good
understanding of the channel conduction and the depletion width in the device. Also in the higher voltage levels the formation of the parasitic channel is relatively easy to observe. Fig.11 demonstrates the current contours at VGS = 0.5v . Fig.12 shows the carrier concentration on the device and the both sides of the wide band gap material. It is obvious, that several parasitic current paths are available. In this case this is not a good design since some of the current is conducted through the AlGaAs layer, which is a wide band gap material, so a low mobility path, which would reduce the efficiency of the device. Additionally, because of the presence of the DX trap centers in the AlGaAs, especially with high composition of Al, the current conduction of this layer would increase the noise figure of the device. On the other hand the fabrication of the inverted HEMT, is more challenging than the conventional HEMT and since the channel is form deeper in the device, any threshold voltage adjustment of the device, by using the recess etching techniques would be useless. So, in order to improve the current handling of the device and get a reliable transistor, the structure of Fig.13 is used. This structure has the same doping and geometry of the previous design, with a
GaAs AlGaAs i-GaAs
Fig.13 A new design; modified structure of the Fig.9.
Fig.12 The carrier concentration or the sheet charge.
300°A of n + − GaAs cap layer, 100°A of AlGaAs barrier layer, 0.1µm i-GaAs, followed by 0.2µm of GaAs substrate ( 1 × 1014 / cm −3 ). Simulating this structure in MEDICI shows a positive threshold voltage for the device, so an enhancement transistor. To have a depletion mode transistor, which is desirable in most applications, several changes can be applied. The method, which would have the most effect would be the change of the thickness of the AlGaAs layer, since it controls the depth of the depletion layer in to the device. Increasing this thickness from 100°A to 220°A would shift the threshold voltage of the device from 0.6v to –0.4v, which is desired. The effect of the gate voltage on the 2DEG modulation has to occur through a thicker layer, but it’s a good method to compensate for the threshold voltage adjustment. Of course the change of the recess etch would change the threshold voltage, but the changes are very small and usually used for fine tuning and final adjustments of the threshold voltage if necessary. Fig.14, 15 show the energy band diagram and the gate characteristics of the device shown in Fig.13, respectively. Simulating the structure shows a sheet carrier concentration in the GaAs side of the heterostructure. But as is depicted in the
Fig.16, still there exists some current conduction through the AlGaAs layer, which reduces the mobility and the frequency response of the device.
perform, it suffice to have a feeling of the level of the break down voltage.
Fig.16 The current distribution in the device with 0.5v of gate bias.
Fig.14 The energy band diagram of the structure of Fig.13.
Fig.15 The gate characteristics and the threshold voltage of the structure of Fig.13.
Fig.17 The cut off frequency of the single channel HEMT versus the drain current for 0.5v of gate bias.
An AC analysis of the device of Fig.13 is done in MEDICI and the results are shown in Fig.17, 18 as the cut-off frequency versus the drain current and gate voltage. This device seems to have a good response in 100GHz frequency range. And from these graphs the relative voltage and current for a certain cut-off frequency can be derived. Fig.19 demonstrates the I d − Vds characteristics of the device for different gate voltages. The break down voltage happens to be much higher than 30V, but due to the time required for the simulation to
Fig.18 The cut off frequency of the single channel HEMT versus the gate voltage.
Fig.19 The output characteristics of the device simulated with -0.5v, 0v, 0.5v of gate bias.
Fig.20 The gate characteristics of the device simulated within MEDICI.
In order to have a better carrier confinement in the channel and increase the current capabilities of the device, reducing the thickness of the doped AlGaAs layer and using a low-doped spacer layer, is recommended. With a proper spacer layer the carriers, electrons in this case, are more separated from the donor layer so would have a higher mobility, but as well the density of the sheet charge carrier might reduce. So there is a trade off for the appropriate thickness of the spacer layer. A 50°A layer of AlGaAs, has been defined as the spacer layer. The doping of this layer has chosen to be 2.5 × 1015 / cm 3 while it really does not have a great impact on the device characteristics and the threshold voltage of the transistor. Other parameters of the device are kept the same. The result of a simulation in MEDICI, is depicted in Fig.20, which shows the gate characteristics of this device. The threshold voltage of –0.7v is calculated. By comparing this graph, with the one in Fig.15, it is observed that the current level has increase, which is due to the better confinement of the electrons in the channel (2DEG). As mentioned before the spacer would result in a bit lower dense 2DEG, while the mobility of the 2DEG carriers are much higher with respect to the case without the spacer layer,
Fig.21 The output characteristics of the device simulated with -0.6v, -0.3v, 0v of gate bias.
Fig.22 The cut off frequency of the single channel HEMT, with the 50A of spacer layer, versus the gate voltage.
and this would result in the higher current handling of the device. Further increasing the cap layer would result in a lower resistance path for a larger section of the source and drain distances to the gate and so increases the efficiency of the device. Fig.21 show the output characteristics of the new device, and as it is showing it has a better current capability, of course the threshold voltages are not equal, but for the same situations in both devices, the former has a better characteristics. As another parameter, which can be varied easily in the process would be the thickness of the cap layer. Increasing the cap layer thickness would result in a lower series resistance along the device length and would increase the intrinsic conductance and contributes to a lower RC, time constants, which would result in a higher gain and power cut off frequencies. Fig.22 demonstrates the cut-off frequency of the device versus the gate voltage. The cap layer thickness has been increased from 300°A to 400°A in this simulation. Fig.23 shows the g m − V gs characteristics of the device. The values demonstrated are the intrinsic value of g m , and the extrinsic g m has to include the series resistances effects. But the values calculated are quite high relative to what we expected, which might be resolved by changing the mobility model or the method of calculations. For better improvement of the sheet charge confinement a delta doping is usually used between the donor layer and spacer. In the design process the implementation of the concept has been validated in the MEDICI, and the trends are expected. The final results do agree with the reported parameters and the dependences. In order to improve the characteristics of this device several other approaches are available, e.g. increasing the composition of the Al in AlGaAs material (x), would increase the band gap of the AlGaAs layer and results in
Fig.23 The plot of the variations of the transconductance of the device versus the gate voltage.
a denser electron confinement, while this would increase the DX center in the material and has a reverse effect on the carrier transportation. A good value reported in the literature is about 22%, but these values vary between 17% and 30% in different designs. Also for better 2DEG confinement, the thickness of the channel should be reduced, which leads to the novel designs namely, QWell devices. The thickness of the channel in these devices would vary between the 100°A and 30°A, so the probability of the presence of the electrons in the channel is quite high, otherwise a degradation of the current due to the presence of the electron in the AlGaAs layer would be expected. As another factor to improve the sheet charge density of the 2DEG is the AlGaAs layer doping. This doping is also limited to a level, which the leakage current is not significant. Otherwise it would reduce the gate break down voltage and damage the device. In term of the breakdown voltage, the most attention should be toward the areas which are facing the high voltage drop which are experiencing high electric fields. His happened at the drain edge of the device with a high electric filed present in a very short length. In order to increase the breakdown of the device the distance
between the gate and the drain should be increased. This is possible by offsetting the gate, and moving it toward the source end. In the power application which both the high current capability and the high breakdown voltages are expected, the multichannel HEMT devices play an important role. The number of the channels of a device would depend on the distance of each channel to the gate. Since the 2DEG sheet charge available in the channel has to be modulated through the gate voltage. Another important group of the HEMT devices, are the Pseudomorphic devices, which the presence of a relatively thin layer of a narrow band material, which is not usually lattice match with the rest base layer would happen to be strained and the 2DEG of a very high mobility to form. This type of device is used in the microwave and high frequency applications.
Conclusion The High Electron Mobility Transistor has demonstrated good characteristics for microwave and high frequency application as well as the power applications and is widely used. In this report this type of the transistors are investigated. The effect of several changes of the different parameters is studied and summarized and compared with that of the reported in the literature. Several families of the HEMT family and their application are introduced. Acknowledgment Many thanks to Professor D. Pavlidis for his advise and support during the whole term. I appreciate the help and advice of Alexander Mannason, Pouya Valizadeh and all the classmates of the EECS521, in winter 2003.
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