GaN-on-Silicon HEMTs and Schottky diodes for high voltage applications
Gallium Nitride (GaN) is considered a very promising material for use in the field of power devices as its application in power systems would result in a significant increase in the power density, reduced power losses, and the potential to operate at high frequencies. The wide bandgap of the material allows a high critical electric field to be sustained which can lead to the design of devices with a shorter drift region, and therefore with lower on-state resistance, if compared to a silicon-based device with the same breakdown voltage. The use of an AlGaN/GaN heterostructure allows the formation of a two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) at the heterointerface where carriers can reach very high mobility values. These properties can lead to the production of High Electron Mobility Transistors (HEMTs) and Schottky barrier diodes with superior performance, even when compared to devices based on state-of-the-art technologies such as Silicon Carbide or superjunctions. Furthermore, epitaxial growth of GaN layers on silicon wafers allows a significant reduction in the production cost and makes these devices competitive from a price perspective. This thesis will deal with a variety of topics concerning the characterization, design and optimization of AlGaN/GaN HEMTs and Schottky diodes with a 600 to 650V rating. Discussion will span several topics from device cross-section physics to circuit implementation and will be based on both experimental results and advanced modelling. More specifically, the thesis is concerned with the characterization of AlGaN/GaN Schottky diodes and extraction of their main parameters such as ideality factor, barrier height and series resistance. A thorough investigation of their reverse recovery performance and a comparison to competing technologies is also given. Several topics which concern the operation of AlGaN/GaN HEMTs are then discussed. The underlying physics of p-gate enhancement mode transistors are analysed followed by a discussion of the challenges associated with the implementation of these devices at a circuit level. Finally, a comparison of the performance of a specific area-saving layout (Bonding pad over active area) and a conventional design is given. The thesis aims to significantly enhance the understanding of the behaviour of these devices to enable better or new commercial designs to emerge.