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Title: Nanoscale electrical characterisation of nitride structures
Author: Choi, Fung Sing
ISNI:       0000 0004 7652 058X
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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To fully exploit the potential of gallium nitride (GaN) devices for optoelectronics and power electronic applications, the structures of device need to be investigated and optimized. In particular carrier densities, conductivities and localised charges can have a significant impact to device performances. Electrical scanning probe microscopy techniques, including scanning capacitance microscopy (SCM), conductive atomic force microscopy (C-AFM) and kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM), were utilized to study the structures of nitride devices such as high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs), light emitting diodes (LEDs) and junction diodes. These results combine with other characterisation techniques to give an enhanced understanding about the nitride structures. Leakage currents are one of the major challenges in HEMTs, especially leakages in buffer layers which deteriorate the breakdown voltage of the devices. To achieve an insulating buffer layer, carbon doping is usually used to compensate the unintentional n-type doping of nitride materials. Here, I show that vertical leakage can originate from the formation of inverted hexagonal pyramidal defects during the low temperature growth of an AlGaN:C strain relief layer. The semi-polar facets of the defects enhanced the oxygen incorporation and led to the formation of leakage pathways which were observed using SCM. Leakage occurring at HEMT surfaces will lead to current collapses of devices. In this work, I discovered nano-cracks on a HEMT surface. C-AFM showed enhanced conductivity along these nano-cracks. A model based on stress relaxation analysis was proposed to explain the drop of surface potential along the nano-cracks. Advances in the quality of epitaxial GaN grown by MOVPE have been facilitated by understanding the formation of defects within the materials and structures. However, hillocks as a specific type of defects have not been intensively studied yet. In this work, three types of hillocks were discovered on GaN p-i-n diodes and a GaN film grown on patterned sapphire substrates. It was found that pits were always present around the centres of hillocks. Multi-microscopy results showed these pits were developed from either an inversion domain or a nano-pipe or a void under the sample surface. Formation of hillocks was usually associated with a change of growth condition, such as an increase in Mg doping or a decrease in growth temperature and gas flows, despite the formation mechanism is still unclear. GaN$_{1-x}$As$_x$ is a highly mismatched alloy semiconductor whose band-gap can be engineered across the whole visible spectrum. For this reason and the potential to achieve high p-type doping, GaN$_{1-x}$As$_x$ is a promising material for optoelectronic applications. However, the growth of GaN$_{1-x}$As$_{x}$ at intermediate As fraction while maintaining a high conductivity and uniformity of the material is still challenging. Two n-GaN/p-GaN$_{1-x}$As$_x$ diodes with different Ga flows were investigated. Both samples demonstrated that highly Mg-doped GaN$_{1-x}$As$_x$ with high As fraction is achievable. However, the samples contained both amorphous and polycrystalline regions. The electrical scanning probe microscopy results suggested the amorphous structure has a lower hole concentration and hence conductivity than the polycrystalline structure. Nevertheless, there is still a lack of understanding about the electrical properties and conduction mechanisms of the GaN$_{1-x}$As$_x$ alloy.
Supervisor: Oliver, Rachel ; Humphreys, Colin ; Wallis, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: nanotechnology ; nitride ; characterisation ; microscopy ; electrical ; semiconductor ; material ; led ; hemt ; transistor ; light emitting diode