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The occurrence of multi-hit events and the separation distance between multi-hit ion pairs field evaporated from III-nitride semiconductors can potentially provide insights on neighboring chemistry, crystal structure, and field conditions. In this work, we quantify the range of variation in major III-N and III-III ion-pair separation to establish correlations with bulk composition, growth method, and ion-pair chemistry. The analysis of ion-pair separation along the AlGaN/GaN heterostructure system allows for comparison of Ga-N and Ga-Ga ion-pair separation between events evaporated from pure GaN and Al0.3Ga0.7N. From this, we aim to define a relative measure for the bond length of ion pairs within an AlGaN/GaN heterostructure. The distributions of pair separation revealed a distinct bimodal behavior that is unique to Al-N2+ ion pairs, suggesting the occurrence of both co-evaporation and molecular dissociation. Finally, we demonstrated that the two modes of ion-pair events align with the known variation in the surface electric field of the AlGaN(0001) structure. These findings demonstrate the utility of atom probe tomography in studying the crystallographic nature of nitride semiconductors.
(AlxGa1−x)2O3 is a novel ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor with the potential to dominate future power electronics industries. High-performance devices demand high Al content in (AlxGa1−x)2O3 but are limited by crystallinity degradation resulting from phase separation. Additionally, the solubility limit of Al is still under debate, and conclusive research is in progress. (AlxGa1−x)2O3 is also limited in high-frequency applications owing to low carrier mobility and requires n-type doping. For commercializing this material, the major obstacle is understanding dopant's behavior in the host (AlxGa1−x)2O3. To investigate these issues, an advanced characterization technique, atom probe tomography (APT), was employed to analyze the structural-chemical evolution of (AlxGa1−x)2O3. In this review, we summarized our recent works on the structure-chemistry investigation of (AlxGa1−x)2O3 with alloy composition and doping interaction. We introduced machine learning algorithms on APT data to reveal unrivaled knowledge, previously not achievable with conventional methodologies. The outstanding capabilities of APT to study (AlxGa1−x)2O3 with Al composition and doping will be considered significant for the wide bandgap semiconductors community.
In this work, the correlation between composition and relative evaporation field was investigated by tracking the statistics of multi-hit detector events in atom probe tomography (APT). This approach is applied systematically to a GaN-based nitride heterostructure with five AlxGa1−xN layers of varying Al composition. The relative field evaporation and the percentage of multi-hit events were found to increase with higher Al concentration. Furthermore, the comparison of the relative evaporation fields of AlN with respect to the constituent ions is found to be less than GaN with respect to its constituent ions. Despite equivalent compositions between opposing interfaces of the same AlxGa1−xN interlayer, the rate of change in multiplicity exhibits a consistent asymmetric trend with a steeper slope across the AlxGa1−xN/GaN interface compared to the GaN/AlxGa1−xN interface. The AlxGa1−xN/GaN heterostructure serves as a test structure for exploring field evaporation and neighborhood chemistry, which can be applied to any material chemistry and particularly other nitride systems.
Accuracy of atom probe tomography measurements is strongly degraded by the presence of phases that have different evaporation fields. In particular, when there are perpendicular interfaces to the tip axis in the specimen, layers thicknesses are systematically biased and the resolution is degraded near the interfaces. Based on an analytical model of field evaporated emitter end-form, a new algorithm dedicated to the 3D reconstruction of multilayered samples was developed. Simulations of field evaporation of bilayer were performed to evaluate the effectiveness of the new algorithm. Compared to the standard state-of-the-art reconstruction methods, the present approach provides much more accurate analyzed volume, and the resolution is clearly improved near the interface. The ability of the algorithm to handle experimental data was also demonstrated. It is shown that the standard algorithm applied to the same data can commit an error on the layers thicknesses up to a factor 2. This new method is not constrained by the classical hemispherical specimen shape assumption.
Compound semiconductors belong to the most important materials for optoelectronic applications. Many of them exhibit favorable optical properties, such as a direct energy band gap (in contrast to silicon) and high-absorption coefficients over a wide spectral range. Moreover, varying the composition of the compound or substituting some of its elements often allows for controlled band gap engineering and optimization for specific applications. Because many compound semiconductors enable efficient conversion of light into electricity and vice versa, they are commonly used materials for optoelectronic devices.
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