The effects of both temperature and atmosphere on the resulting morphological features of the polar faces of single crystal ZnO were investigated and characterized by atomic force microscopy (AFM). In studies where ZnO was thermally processed in flowing oxygen at atmospheric conditions within the temperature range of 500°C to 900°C for 30 minutes, the Znsurface (i.e., (000 1)) showed a tendency to reconstruct with increasing temperature until terraces became evident at 900°C. Terrace heights were as small as 0.9 nm. In contrast, the O-surface (i.e., (000 ī)) was observe to change very little during the O2-atmoshere, thermal treatment and remained comparatively rougher than the Zn-surface. ZnO samples which were thermally processed under high vacuum (i.e., 5 × 10-7 Torr) conditions exhibited a more dramatic contrast. The vacuum annealed Zn-surface was observed to develop very smooth surface features (Roughness = 0.09 nm) at annealing temperatures within the 700 – 800°C range. In contrast, and as expected, the O-surface roughness increased due to surface reduction reactions. In addition to these findings, it is noted that AFM measurements may be utilized as a convenient method to distinguish between the two polar surfaces of ZnO.
Aluminum nitride was deposited on the Zn- and O- surfaces from 700 to 850°C by pulsed laser evaporation. X-ray diffraction indicated that the AIN was c-axis oriented with no interface reaction products detected between the ZnO substrate and AIN film.