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Velocity overshoot is a critically important nonstationary effect utilized for the enhanced performance of submicron field-effect devices fabricated with high-electron-mobility compound semiconductors. However, the physical mechanisms of velocity overshoot decay dynamics in the devices are not known in detail. Therefore, a numerical analysis is conducted typically for a submicron GaAs metal-semiconductor field-effect transistor in order to elucidate the physical mechanisms. It is found that there exist three different mechanisms, depending on device bias conditions. Specifically, at large drain biases corresponding to the saturation drain current (dc) region, the velocity overshoot suddenly begins to drop very sensitively due to the onset of a rapid decrease of the momentum relaxation time, not the mobility, arising from the effect of velocity-randomizing intervalley scattering. It then continues to drop rapidly and decays completely by severe mobility reduction due to intervalley scattering. On the other hand, at small drain biases corresponding to the linear dc region, the velocity overshoot suddenly begins to drop very sensitively due to the onset of a rapid increase of thermal energy diffusion by electrons in the channel of the gate. It then continues to drop rapidly for a certain channel distance due to the increasing thermal energy diffusion effect, and later completely decays by a sharply decreasing electric field. Moreover, at drain biases close to a dc saturation voltage, the mechanism is a mixture of the above two bias conditions. It is suggested that a large secondary-valley energy separation is essential to increase the performance of submicron devices.


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