We have performed a systematic study of the electrical properties of a large number of metal/n-GaAs and metal/n-InP diodes. Diodes were fabricated on clean cleaved InP and GaAs (110) surfaces in ultra-high vacuum with in-situ metal deposition of Cr, Mn, Sn, Ni, Al, Pd, Cu, Ag and Au. Using current-voltage (I-V) and capacitance-voltage (C-V) measuring techniques, we were able to obtain very reliable and consistent determinations of the barrier height, θ/b, and ideality factor, n. All of the metal-semiconductor systems formed on lightly doped (< 5×1016/cm3) substrates were characterized by near-unity (1.05) ideality factors.
The effects of doping on the electrical characteristics of the n-GaAs diodes were investigated. A decrease in the effective I-V barrier height, an increase in the ideality factor in forward bias and a strong voltage dependence on the thermionic emission currents in reverse bias were found for diodes formed on the more heavily doped samples. These changes are essentially metal-independent, but depend strongly on the doping of the substrate. The characterization (and elimination in some cases) of peripheral leakage currents from the thermionic emission current for the n-GaAs systems was found to be essential in obtaining consistent results in our work and in reinterpreting some of the prior work in the literature. The dominant leakage current in the GaAs diodes flows through a small area, low barrier at the periphery of the device and can be eliminated by mesa etching.