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Title: Nitride semiconductors studied by atom probe tomography and correlative techniques
Author: Bennett, Samantha
ISNI:       0000 0004 2708 1613
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2011
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Optoelectronic devices fabricated from nitride semiconductors include blue and green light emitting diodes (LEDs) and laser diodes (LDs). To design efficient devices, the structure and composition of the constituent materials must be well-characterised. Traditional microscopy techniques used to examine nitride semiconductors include transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). This thesis describes the study of nitride semiconductor materials using these traditional methods, as well as atom probe tomography (APT), a technique more usually applied to metals that provides three-dimensional (3D) compositional information at the atomic scale. By using both APT and correlative microscopy techniques, a more complete understanding of the material can be gained, which can potentially lead to higher-efficiency, longer-lasting devices. Defects, such as threading dislocations (TDs), can harm device performance. An AFM-based technique was used to show that TDs affect the local electrical properties of nitride materials. To investigate any compositional changes around the TD, APT studies of TDs were attempted, and evidence for oxygen enrichment near the TD was observed. The dopant level in nitride devices also affects their optoelectronic properties, and the combination of APT and TEM was used to show that Mg dopants were preferentially incorporated into pyramidal inversion domains, with a Mg content two orders of magnitude above the background level. Much debate has been focused on the microstructural origin of charge carrier localisation in InGaN. Alloy inhomogeneities have often been suggested to provide this localisation, yet APT has revealed InGaN quantum wells to be a statistically random alloy. Electron beam irradiation in the TEM caused damage to the InGaN, however, and a statistically significant deviation from a random alloy distribution was then observed by APT. The alloy homogeneity of InAlN was also studied, and this alloy system provided a unique opportunity to study gallium implantation damage to the APT sample caused during sample preparation by the focused ion beam (FIB). The combination of APT with traditional microscopy techniques made it possible to achieve a thorough understanding of a wide variety of nitride semiconductor materials.
Supervisor: Humphreys, Colin Sponsor: EPSRC ; Sharp Laboratories of Europe ; Pembroke College, Cambridge
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Gallium nitride ; Atom probe tomography ; Transmission electron microscopy ; LEDs