Crystalline interlayers for reducing the effective thermal boundary resistance in GaN-on-diamond

Daniel E. Field, Jerome A. Cuenca, Matthew Smith, Simon M. Fairclough, Fabien C-P Massabuau, James W. Pomeroy, Oliver Williams, Rachel A. Oliver, Iain Thayne, Martin Kuball

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Integrating diamond with GaN high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) improves thermal management, ultimately increasing the reliability and performance of high-power high-frequency radio frequency amplifiers. Conventionally, an amorphous interlayer is used before growing polycrystalline diamond onto GaN in these devices. This layer contributes significantly to the effective thermal boundary resistance (TBReff) between the GaN HEMT and the diamond, reducing the benefit of the diamond heat spreader. Replacing the amorphous interlayer with a higher thermal conductivity crystalline material would reduce TBReff and help to enable the full potential of GaN-on-diamond devices. In this work, a crystalline Al0.32Ga0.68N interlayer has been integrated into a GaN/AlGaN HEMT device epitaxy. Two samples were studied, one with diamond grown directly on the AlGaN interlayer and another incorporating a thin crystalline SiC layer between AlGaN and diamond. The TBReff, measured using transient thermoreflectance, was improved for the sample with SiC (30 ± 5 m2 K GW–1) compared to the sample without (107 ± 44 m2 K GW–1). The reduced TBReff is thought to arise from improved adhesion between SiC and the diamond compared to the diamond directly on AlGaN because of an increased propensity for carbide bond formation between SiC and the diamond. The stronger carbide bonds aid transmission of phonons across the interface, improving heat transport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54138-54145
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number48
Early online date16 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2020


  • GaN-on-diamond
  • thermal boundary resistance
  • thermal management
  • GaN
  • diamond


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