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Dislocation Nucleation and Growth in MOCVD GaN/AlN Films on Stepped and Step-free 4H-SiC Mesa Substrates

Abstract

Using transmission electron microscopy, we have analyzed dislocations in AlN nucleation layers and GaN films grown by metallorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) on the (0001) surface of epitaxially-grown 4H-SiC mesas with and without steps. For 4H-SiC substrates free of SiC surface steps, half-loop nucleation and glide parallel to the AlN/SiC interfacial plane play the dominant role in strain relief, with no mechanism for generating threading dislocations. In contrast, 4H-SiC mesa surfaces with steps give rise to regions of high stress at the heteroepitaxial interface, thereby providing an environment conducive to the nucleation and growth of threading dislocations, which act to accommodate misfit strain by the tilting of threading edge dislocations.

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