A new technique for investigation of the electrical effects of micropipes in single-crystal 6H-SiC is presented. The setup allows the application of a parallel or normal electric field to MSM (metal-semiconductor-metal) test structures and the visualization of light emission sites in the test gap, including light activity underneath the metal contact. A special transparent metal [indium-tin-oxide(ITO)] was chosen for the metallic contacts. A map of micropipe locations was initially obtained at zero applied field using a laser scattering method. The initial map is compared with that of light emissions at different applied fields.
Several tests on undoped and vanadium-doped (compensated) SiC, using NiCr/Au or ITO contacts, indicated the rapid activation of micropipes at relatively low fields in vertical MSM devices. A good match between the laser imaging map of micropipes at zero field and the map of field-induced light emission sites indicates that micropipes are the main current paths in vertical devices, carrying a large current density, and leading to light emissions and partial or total bulk breakdown of the test device.