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Performances of AlGaN/GaN HFETs have much improved recently and very high potential of this hetero- structure for high power and high frequency electronic devices has been verified. Application of new device technologies such as field plate, recessed gate, digital pre-distortion circuit and dual field plate was essential to realize such high device performances both at 2 GHz, 5GHz and 26 GHz. However, practical requirements on the quality and structure of these material systems for production of these devices are still not clear. Extensive studies on correlation among material quality, device performance and reliability were investigated under Japanese NEDO project. Firstly, this paper reviews recent progress of the performances of high power and high frequency AlGaN/GaN HFETs. Then, several interesting results which suggest practical requirements on material quality and structure will be discussed based on our extensive characterization studies in terms of device performances and reliabilities.
Interface states produced at the interface between an insulator and GaN semiconductor determine the performance of GaN metal-insulator-semiconductor (MIS) field effect transistors. Therefore, it is important to know details of interface states characteristics to improve device performances. For above purpose, we have fabricated GaN MIS capacitors, then carried out capacitance-voltage (CV) and deep level transient spectroscopy (DLTS) measurements, and analyzed the obtained results in detail.Wafers used in this study were n-type GaN grown on sapphire substrates by metal organic chemical vapor deposition. A film of SiN was deposited as an insulating layer using electron-cyclotron-resonance plasma-assisted deposition at room temperature, then samples were annealed at 400, 600 or 800°C in N2 atmosphere for 10 min.CV measurements were performed for all the samples at various frequencies and bias sweep rates in the dark condition. CV curves of all the samples exhibited ledges in the curves. Here, ledge indicates a region of which capacitance is independent of applied bias. Although each sample was annealed at each different temperature, it was observed at the same surface potential for all the samples. This result indicates that the Fermi level of the GaN/SiN interface is pinned by a particular trap. In addition, the shape of the CV curve depended on both frequency and bias sweep rate, and it was not observed in the results obtained by a quasi-static capacitance voltage measurement. This can be explained that the shape of ledge is determined by the quasi-equilibrium between a filling rate of traps and a bias sweep rate or test frequency.
In the positive bias region of the ledge, a hysteresis window of the CV curve had some dependence on frequency but little dependence on bias sweep rate. On the other hand, in the negative bias region of the ledge, it had little dependence on frequency but obvious dependence on bias sweep rate. These dependences indicate two different traps and related to the ledge formation. The trap energy level related to the sweep rate dependence is estimated to be 0.34 eV by the temperature dependence of the width of hysteresis window.
Deep level transient spectroscopy measurements were carried out to characterize the trap levels observed in the CV curves. Trap levels with activation energies of 0.32 and 0.78 eV were observed . The former is almost equal to 0.34 eV obtained from the temperature dependence of the width of hysteresis window. The latter is similar to the interface trap reported by Nakano et al., which is considered to be originated from the complexes of Si and surface defect . E. Shibata et al., Ext. Abstracts 2008 IMFEDK, Osaka, pp.69-70. (2008). Y. Nakano and T. Jimbo, Appl. Phys. Lett. 80, 4756 (2002).
We have investigated the growth properties of Mg-doped N-polar InN films grown by radio-frequency plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy (RF-MBE). We found that the Mg-doped InN films had smaller grain size than non-doped films, and furthermore the grain size decreased with an increase in Mg doping amount. Non-doped InN exhibited a single X-ray diffraction (XRD) peak of (0002) h-InN. On the other hand, the Mg-doped InN produced a weak XRD peak of (111) c-InN in addition to a strong peak of (0002) h-InN. These results indicate that the Mg doping decreased the surface migration length of In atoms. From Hall-effect measurements, all the samples were shown to have n-type conductivity. Mg-doped InN grown with Mg cell temperatures of 130 and 135°C had carrier concentrations that were about half (i.e., ∼4.5×1018 cm−3) that of the non-doped InN. However, the carrier concentration tended to increase with further supply of Mg. These results indicate that Mg-doping causes a trade-off between a carrier decreasing effect from the Mg acceptors and a carrier increasing effect from defects caused by the poor surface migration of In atoms.
We report on the growth of self-aligned InN nano-dots on nano-patterned GaN templates by electron cyclotron resonance plasma-excited molecular beam epitaxy (ECR-MBE). In the fabrication of the nano-dots, InN was grown on GaN templates with reticular patterns of holes, which were prepared by the focused ion beam (FIB) technique. The InN nano-dots were formed selectively at the holes, resulting in the reticular array of InN nano-dos. The size of InN dots was controlled by varying the hole-pitch and the growth temperature. Furthermore, the shape of InN dots improved by thermal annealing after the growth. We have succeeded in controlling the position and size of InN nano-dots on nano-patterned substrates. Typically, InN nano-dots with a diameter of 50 nm and a height of 10 nm were fabricated in 410°C growth.
For further improvements in AlGaN/GaN heterojunction field-effect transistor performance (HFET), it is necessary to reduce the leakage current of the GaN buffer layer. We found a correlation between the leakage current and the intensity of the yellow luminescence of GaN layers taken by UV lamp excitation. The GaN layers were grown by metal organic chemical vapor deposition on SiC substrates. When the samples were excited by a UV (365 nm) lamp, visible yellow luminescence was observed. The leakage current of the GaN buffer layer was measured after deposition of ohmic metal contact. We confirmed clear correlation between the leakage current and the luminescence intensity based from result that the samples with the larger leakage current showed the stronger luminescence intensity. This correlation gives us useful information to understand the drain-source leakage current of AlGaN/GaN HFET.
Optical properties of tensile strained AlxGa1-xN films of AlxGa1-xN/GaN heterostructures grown on sapphire were investigated by using polarization-resolved photoluminescence spectroscopy. Emissions from AlxGa1-xN with polarization of E//c and E⊥c were obtained at different peak energies. The energy separation of these emissions with polarization was increased linearly with the increase in Al mole fraction of the strained AlxGa1-xN, indicating that the energy separation was due to biaxial strain in the tensile strained AlxGa1-xN.
Current-voltage (IV) measurements and capacitance-voltage (CV) measurements have been carried out to investigate electrical properties of AlGaN/GaN-HEMT structures. By CV measurements of Schottky barrier diodes (SBDs) with large leak currents, we observed a distinct peak in CV profiling at low frequencies. The integral of this peak was found to have a correlation with a leak current. The behavior of this peak might be described by the Shockley-Read-Hall (SRH) model if we assume this peak is due to a phenomenon of an electron emission and capture by deep levels. Then Quasi-Fermi Level (Imref) at the bias point where this peak appears in CV profiling corresponds to energy depth of deep levels. That energy level can be approximated by Imref of two-dimensional (2D) electron gas. The result of our samples showed that the energy depth of deep levels from the conduction band is distributed from 320meV to 470meV for Al mole fraction from 0.19 to 0.30, respectively.
Cubic GaN is successfully grown on β-Ga2O3 by molecular beam epitaxy for the first time. Prior nitridation of the (100) β-Ga2O3 single-crystal substrate by exposure to electron cyclotron resonance nitrogen plasma causes the formation of a surficial (001) c-GaN layer, upon which homo-epitaxial growth of c-GaN can be achieved by radio-frequency molecular beam epitaxy. The epitaxial relationship is confirmed by electron microscopy to be (001) c-GaN // (100) β-Ga2O3,  c-GaN //  β-Ga2O3, and [1-10] c-GaN //  β-Ga2O3.
The effects of the nitridation process of (0001) sapphire on crystalline quality of InN were clearly demonstrated. The InN films were grown on NFM (nitrogen flux modulation) HT-InN or LT-InN buffer layers, which had been deposited on nitridated sapphire substrates. We found that low-temperature nitridation of sapphire is effective in improving the tilt distribution of InN films. Whereas the twist distribution remained narrow and almost constant, independent of nitridation conditions, when LT-InN buffer layers were used. The XRC-FWHM value of 54 arcsec for (0002) InN, the lowest reported to date, was achieved by using the LT-InN buffer layer and sapphire nitridation at 300°C for 3 hours.
This paper describes studies on high-quality InN growth on sapphire by RF-MBE. Critical procedures to obtain high-quality InN films were investigated and (1) nitridation process of sapphire substrates prior to growth, (2) precise control of V/III ratio and (3) selection of optimum growth temperature were found to be essential. Detailed structural characterizations by XRD, TEM, Raman scattering and EXAFS indicate that InN films obtained in this study have ideal hexagonal wurtzite structure. FWHMs of ω-2Θ mode XRD and E2(high)-phonon-mode of Raman scattering are as small as 28.9 arcsec and 3.2 cm-1, respectively. True band gap energy of InN is also discussed based on optical characterization results obtained from well-characterized hexagonal InN grown in this study. PbS, instead of InGaAs, was used as a detector for PL study in order to solve the problem coming from the cut-off wavelength of InGaAs detector. Based on these systematic studies on structural and optical property characterizations using high-quality InN, true band-gap energy of InN is suggested to be less than 0.67 eV and approximately 0.65 eV at room temperature. Single-crystalline InN films are also successfully grown on Si substrates by a brief nitridation of the Si substrates. Significant improvement of InN crystal quality on Si substrates by the insertion of an AlN buffer layer is also demonstrated.
A newly reported narrow bandgap for indium nitride means that the indium gallium nitride system of alloys can be a candidate for new high efficiency solar cells covering most of the solar spectrum. In this paper, n-InN films were grown on p-Si (100) substrates. We characterize, for the first time, photovoltaic properties using n-InN/p-Si hetero-junction grown by RF-MBE.
InN films were grown on Si (111) substrates by radio-frequency plasma-excited molecular beam epitaxy. InN films highly oriented to the c-axis were obtained by optimizing growth conditions in the direct growth on Si. Growth of single crystalline InN films was realized on Si substrates with substrate nitridation for 3 min. On the other hands, when the substrate nitridation was lasted over 30 min, obtained InN films were polycrystalline due to the amorphous SiNx layer formed on a substrate surface. We also studied the local atomic structure in the single crystalline InN film using extended X-ray absorption fine structure measurements.
InN films were grown on sapphire (0001) substrates by radio-frequency plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy. The InN buffer layers deposited at low temperature were either grown on a substrate with nitridation or on a substrate without nitridation. The InN buffer layers on the nitridated substrates were always single crystalline, whereas the buffer layers on non-nitridated substrates were always polycrystalline. However, even without nitridation process, single crystalline InN films could be grown on the polycrystalline InN buffer layers; in this case, the orientation was always  InN// sapphire epitaxy, which differed from the  InN// sapphire epitaxy in films grown with nitridation.
InN films with excellent surface morphology were grown by controlled the V/III ratio of InN epitaxal layer. It was found they were single crystal of InN films with wurtzite structure by X-ray diffraction (XRD) measurement and reflection high-energy electron diffraction (RHEED) observation. Hall mobility as high as 760 cm2/Vs was achieved for InN film grown at 550°C with 240 W of RF plasma power with a carrier density of 3.0×1019 cm−3 at room temperature. To our knowledge, this electron mobility is the highest value ever reported.
We have investigated relationships between the microscopic structure and optical property of polycrystalline GaN grown by (electron-cyclotron-resonance plasma-excited molecular beam epitaxy) ECR-MBE on silica glass substrates, using scanning electron microscope (SEM) and cathodoluminescence (CL). It was found that CL intensity was stronger for the samples with a large columnar domain size. These individual columnar domains showed clear luminescence. It was found that the origin of strong luminescence from polycrystalline GaN is due to such a columnar domain. That luminescence was closely related to the morphology of the columnar domains. It was revealed that the columnar domain with a homogeneous and hexagonal shape showed clear luminescence.
We have investigated relationships between microscopic structure and cathodoluminescence (CL) property of polycrystalline (poly-) GaN grown by electron-cyclotron-resonance plasma-excited molecular beam epitaxy (ECR-MBE) on ZnO/Si substrates. Very strong CL with a peak of 3.45 eV was observed from the poly-GaN, which mainly showed a columnar structure with a size of 50-100 nm. On the other hand, the intensity of CL from the poly-GaN with few columnar domains was weaker than that of the poly-GaN with the columnar structure. The CL image from the poly-GaN, in which the columnar domains were locally observed, showed a strong contrast between bright domains and a dark background. It is confirmed that these bright regions in the CL images are corresponding to the columnar domains of the poly-GaN, by comparing with the SEM images. These results suggest that the columnar domains are responsible for the strong CL from the poly-GaN grown on the ZnO/Si substrates. Cross-sectional transmission electron microscope (TEM) observation revealed that the columnar domains had high quality crystallinity with few defects.
GaN growth by electron-cyclotron-resonance plasma-excited molecular beam epitaxy using hydrogen-nitrogen mixed gas plasma were carried out on GaN templates with a different polar-surface. Structure and surface morphology of the GaN layers were characterized using transmission electron microscopy. The GaN layer grown with hydrogen on N-polar template showed a relatively flat morphology including hillocks. Columnar domain existed in the center of the hillock, which might be attributed to the existence of tiny inversion domain with Ga-polarity. On the other hand, columnarstructure was formed in the GaN layer grown with hydrogen on Ga-polar template.
Electron-cyclotron-resonance plasma-excited molecular beam epitaxy (ECR-MBE) is a new technique for GaAs growth. This paper describes surface cleaning of GaAs and Si substrates at fairly low temperatures using hydrogen plasma, low temperature growth of GaAs on both substrates, and selective area growth of GaAs on both substrates partially covered with a silicon nitride (SiN) mask. The ability to clean and grow at low temperatures-assumed to be a benefit of using energetic particles—should permit us to grow layers on processed GaAs and/or Si substrates. The electrical properties of grown layers are also described. Selective area growth has been successfully carried out with no deposit on the mask or irregular growth at the mask edge. The desorption process introduced by impinging ions is found to play an important role in the selective area growth.
Successful selective area growth of GaAs on Si following low-temperature plasma cleaning of the Si surface is carried out by ECR plasma-excited MBE. Both cleaning and selective area growth are carried out at 630° C. GaAs selectively grows only in Si windows patterned in the SiN mask. Neither deposition on the SiN mask nor anomalous growth at the mask edge is observed. GaAs thickness is independent of the SiN mask width, which implies that the plasma-enhanced desorption of migrating atoms from the SiN mask is essential in this selective area growth. Furthermore, results for the helium-diluted arsine imply that the plasma-enhanced desorption is mainly caused by physical bombardment.
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