GaN films were grown on sapphire substrates at temperatures below 725 °C utilizing a Constricted Glow Discharge plasma source. A three dimensional growth mode is observed at such low growth temperatures resulting in films that are composed of individual but oriented grains. The strain that originates from the growth on the lattice mismatched substrate with a different thermal expansion coefficient is utilized to influence the thin film growth. The strain can be largely altered by the growth of suitable buffer layers. Thereby, optical and structural film properties can be engineered. It is argued that the surface diffusion of Ga ad-atoms is affected by engineering the strain. Alternatively, surface diffusion can be influenced by surfactants. It is demonstrated that the use of bismuth as a surfactant allows to modify the surface morphology of the GaN films that reflects the size of the grains in the films. The results suggest that a substantial increase of the oriented grain sizes in the films is possible while maintaining a low growth temperature.
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