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Study the Conduction Mechanism and the Electrical Response of Strained Nano-thin 3C-SiC Films on Si used as Surface Sensors

  • Ronak Rahimi (a1), Christopher M Miller (a2), Alan Munger (a3), Srikanth Raghavan (a1), C D Stinespring (a1) and D Korakakis (a1)...


Various superior properties of SiC such as high thermal conductivity, chemical and thermal stability and mechanical robustness provide the basis for electronic and MEMS devices of novel design [1]. This work evaluates heterostructures that consist of a few nanometers-thick 3C-SiC films on silicon substrates. Nano-thin SiC films differ significantly in their electrical behavior compared to the bulk material [2], a finding that gives rise to a potential use of these films as surface sensors. To gain a better understanding of the effect of surface states on the electrical response of these thin, strained films, several metal-semiconductor-metal heterostructures have been examined under variable conditions. The nano-thin, strained films were grown using gas source molecular beam epitaxy. Reflection high-energy electron diffraction patterns obtained from several 3C-SiC films indicate that these films are strained nearly 3% relative to the SiC lattice constant. Al, Cr and Pt contacts to a nano-thin film 3C-SiC were deposited and characterized. I-V measurements of the strained nano-thin films demonstrate metal-semiconductor-metal characteristics. Band offsets due to biaxial tensile strain introduced within the 3C-SiC films were calculated and band diagrams incorporating strain effects were simulated. Electron affinity of 3C-SiC has been extracted from experimental I-V curves and is in good agreement with the value that has been calculated for a strained 3C-SiC film [3]. On the basis of experimental and simulation results, an empirical model for the current transport has been proposed. Fabricated devices have been characterized in a controlled environment under hydrogen flow and also in a reactive ambient, while heating the sample and oxidizing the surface, to investigate the effects of the environment on the surface states. Observed changes in I-V characteristics suggest that these nano-thin films can be used as surface sensors.



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