Simulations of electron transport in GaN devices
This thesis deals with the development and application of Monte Carlo simulations to study electron transport in bulk GaN in the wurtzite crystal structure and the properties of field effect transistors made from the material. There is a particular emphasis on transport in the high electric field regime and transistors operating at high voltages. The simulation model includes five sets of non-parabolic conduction band valleys which can be occupied by electrons during high field transport. The effects on electron transport of impurities and the relevant phonon scattering mechanisms have been considered. Results for electron transport at both low and high electric field are presented and compared with the properties of GaN in the zincblende structure, of other group-III nitride semiconductors, and of GaAs. The dependence of the transport properties on the material parameters is discussed and also with regard to the temperature, donor concentration and electric field magnitude and direction. The transport properties of electrons in wurtzite GaN n+-i(n)-n+ diodes are also explored, including the effect of the upper valleys and the temperature on hot electron transport. Simulations have also been carried out to model the steady-state and transient properties of GaN MESFETs that have recently been the subject of experimental study. It has been suggested that traps have a substantial effect on the performance of GaN field effect transistors and we have developed a model of a device with traps to investigate this suggestion. The model includes the simulation of the capture and release of electrons by traps whose charge has a direct effect on the current flowing through the transistor terminals. The influence of temperature and light on the occupancy of the traps and the /- V characteristics are considered. It is concluded that traps are likely to play a substantial role in the behaviour of GaN field effect transistors. Further simulations were performed to model electron transport in AlGaN/GaN hetero-junction FETs. So called HFET structures with a 78 nm Alo.2Gao.8N pseudomorphically strained layer have been simulated, with the inclusion of spontaneous and piezoelectric polarization effects in the strained layer. The polarization effects are shown to not only increase the current density, but also improve the electron transport by inducing a higher electron density close to the positive charge sheet that occurs in the channel.