In this work, the single-event burnout (SEB) mechanism of p-GaN gate AlGaN/GaN HEMTs has been studied systematically. The irradiation experiment was carried out based on Ta ions with high linear energy transfer of 75.4 MeV/(mg/cm2), a standard criterion for commercial space applications. It is clearly observed that both the drain current and gate current increase during the irradiation. With the increasing drain bias, the device burns out eventually. Technology computer-aided design simulation was used to explore the possible burnout mechanism. The local high electric field peak induced by the electron and hole redistribution was proposed to explain the permanent damage. When heavy ions impact the device, electron–hole pairs are formed. With the aid of a horizontal electric field across the channel, electrons and holes move toward the drain and gate, respectively. The accumulation of electrons and holes around the drain edge and gate edge induces the local high electric field, which is even higher than the intrinsic breakdown electric field of GaN and AlGaN. The scanning electron microscope results verified the proposed SEB mechanism. This research offers significant theoretical and experimental insights for evaluating the reliability of GaN power devices against high-energy single-event burnout in aerospace applications.

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