In situ transmission electron microscopy of transistor operation and failure

Baoming Wang, Zahabul Islam, Aman Haque, Kelson Chabak, Michael Snure, Eric Heller, Nicholas Glavin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Microscopy is typically used as a post-mortem analytical tool in performance and reliability studies on nanoscale materials and devices. In this study, we demonstrate real time microscopy of the operation and failure of AlGaN/GaN high electron mobility transistors inside the transmission electron microscope. Loading until failure was performed on the electron transparent transistors to visualize the failure mechanisms caused by self-heating. At lower drain voltages, thermo-mechanical stresses induce irreversible microstructural deformation, mostly along the AlGaN/GaN interface, to initiate the damage process. At higher biasing, the self-heating deteriorates the gate and catastrophic failure takes place through metal/semiconductor inter-diffusion and/or buffer layer breakdown. This study indicates that the current trend of recreating the events, from damage nucleation to catastrophic failure, can be replaced by in situ microscopy for a quick and accurate account of the failure mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31LT01
Issue number31
StatePublished - May 30 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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