Interfacing Epitaxial Oxides to Gallium Nitride

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Title: Interfacing Epitaxial Oxides to Gallium Nitride
Author: Losego, Mark Daniel
Advisors: Jon-Paul Maria, Committee Chair
Mark Johnson, Committee Member
Zlatko Sitar, Committee Member
Gregory Parsons, Committee Member
Abstract: Molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) is lauded for its ability to control thin film material structures at the atomic level. Controlling the chemistry and structure of epitaxial interfaces at the atomic level can improve performance of microelectronics and cultivate the development of novel device structures. This thesis explores the utility of MBE for designing interfaces between oxide epilayers and the wide band gap semiconductor gallium nitride (GaN). The allure of wide gap semiconductor microelectronics (like GaN, 3.4 eV) is their ability to operate at higher frequencies, higher powers, and higher temperatures than current semiconductor platforms. Heterostructures between ferroelectric oxides and GaN are also of interest for studying the interaction between GaN's fixed polarization and the ferroelectric's switchable polarization. Two major obstacles to successful integration of oxides with GaN are: (1) interfacial trap states; and (2) small electronic band offsets across the oxide / nitride interface due to the semiconductor's large band gap. For this thesis, epitaxial rocksalt oxide interfacial layers (&#732;8 eV band gap) are investigated as possible solutions to overcoming the challenges facing oxide integration with GaN. The cubic close-packed structure of rocksalt oxides forms a suitable epitaxial interface with the hexagonal close-packed wurtzite lattice of GaN. Three rocksalt oxide compounds are investigated in this thesis: MgO, CaO, and YbO. All are found to have a (111) MO || (0001) GaN; &#60;1`10&#62; MO || <11`20&#62; GaN epitaxial relationship. Development of the epilayer microstructure is dominated by the high-energy polar growth surface (drives 3D nucleation) and the interfacial symmetry, which permits the formation of twin boundaries. Using STEM, strain relief for these ionicly bonded epilayers is observed to occur through disorder within the initial monolayer of growth. All rocksalt oxides demonstrate chemical stability with GaN to &#62;1000&deg;C. Concurrent MBE deposition of MgO and CaO is known to form complete solid solutions. By controlling the composition of these alloys, the oxide's lattice parameter can be engineered to match GaN and reduce interfacial state density. Compositional control is a universal challenge to oxide MBE, and the MgO-CaO system (MCO) is further complicated by magnesium's high volatility and the lack of a thermodynamically stable phase. Through a detailed investigation of MgO's deposition rate and subsequent impact on MCO composition, the process space for achieving lattice-matched compositions to GaN are fully mapped. Lattice-matched compositions are demonstrated to have the narrowest off-axis rocking curve widths ever reported for an epitaxial oxide deposited directly on GaN (0.7&deg; in f-circle for 200 reflection). Epitaxial deposition of the ferroelectric (Ba,Sr)TiO3 by hot RF sputtering on GaN surfaces is also demonstrated. Simple MOS capacitors are fabricated from epitaxial rocksalt oxides and (Ba,Sr)TiO3 layers deposited on n-GaN substrates. Current-voltage measurements reveal that BST epilayers have 5 orders of magnitude higher current leakage than rocksalt epilayers. This higher leakage is attributed to the smaller band offset expected at this interface; modeling confirms that electronic transport occurs by Schottky emission. In contrast, current transport across the rocksalt oxide &#8260; GaN interface occurs by Frenkel-Poole emission and can be reduced with pre-deposition surface treatments. Finally, through this work, it is realized that the integration of oxides with III-nitrides requires an appreciation of many different fields of research including materials science, surface science, and electrical engineering. By recognizing the importance that each of these fields play in designing oxide &#8260; III-nitride interfaces, this thesis has the opportunity to explore other related phenomena including accessing metastable phases through MBE (ytterbium monoxide), spinodal decomposition in metastable alloys (MCO), how polar surfaces grown by MBE compensate their bound surface charge, room temperature epitaxy, and the use of surface modification to achieve selective epitaxial deposition (SeEDed growth).
Date: 2008-08-19
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Materials Science and Engineering

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