Role of sapphire nitridation temperature on GaN growth by plasma assisted molecular beam epitaxy: Part II. Interplay between chemistry and structure of layers
The effect of sapphire nitridation temperature on the chemistry and microstructure of the sapphire substrate/GaN interface, nucleation layer, and of the GaN epilayers grown by rf plasma assisted molecular beam epitaxy is investigated. It is found that a sapphire nitridation temperature as low as 200°C improves the structural and optical quality of GaN epilayers. This result can be explained by the chemistry of the sapphire nitridation process, which is discussed in the framework of a model considering the competitive formation of AlN and oxynitride (NO). In particular, at 200°C, NO desorbs from the sapphire surface, yielding an homogeneous 6 Å AlN layer upon N 2 plasma nitridation. This low temperature AlN template favors the nucleation of hexagonal GaN nuclei which coalesce completely resulting in a hexagonal GaN buffer layer that homogeneously covers the sapphire substrate. This condition promotes the growth of a high quality GaN epilayer. In contrast, high nitridation temperatures result in a mixed AlN/NO nitrided sapphire surface which induce a perturbed and more defected interface with the occurrence of cubic crystallites in the GaN buffer. A sapphire surface with random GaN islands is found upon annealing of the GaN buffer and this condition results in a low-quality GaN epilayer. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.
Losurdo, M; Capezzuto, P; Bruno, G; Namkoong, G; Doolittle, WA; Brown, AS
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