Metalorganic chemical vapor deposition of gallium nitride on sacrificial substrates
GaN-based light emitting diodes (LEDs) face several challenges if the technology is to continue to make a significant impact in general illumination, and on technology that has become known as solid state lighting (SSL). Two of the most pressing challenges for the continued penetration of SSL into traditional lighting applications are efficacy and total lumens from the device, and their related cost. The development of alternative substrate technologies is a promising avenue toward addressing both of these challenges, as both GaN-based device technology and the associated metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) technology are already relatively mature technologies with a well-understood cost base. Zinc oxide (ZnO) and silicon (Si) are among the most promising alternative substrates for GaN epitaxy. These substrates offer the ability to access both higher efficacy and lumen devices (ZnO) at a much reduced cost. This work focuses on the development of MOCVD growth processes to yield high quality GaN-based materials and devices on both ZnO and Si.
ZnO is a promising substrate for growth of low defect-density GaN because of its similar lattice constant and thermal expansion coefficient. The major hurdles for GaN growth on ZnO are the instability of the substrate in a hydrogen atmosphere, which is typical of nitride growth conditions, and the inter-diffusion of zinc and oxygen from the substrate into the GaN-based epitaxial layer. A process was developed for the MOCVD growth of GaN and InxGa 1-xN on ZnO that attempted to address these issues. The structural and optical properties of these films were studied using various techniques. X-ray diffraction (XRD) showed the growth of wurtzite GaN on ZnO, and room-temperature photoluminescence (RT-PL) showed near band-edge luminescence from the GaN and InxGa1-xN layers. However, high zinc and oxygen concentrations due to interdiffusion near the ZnO substrate remained an issue; therefore, the diffusion of zinc and oxygen into the subsequent GaN layer was studied in more detail. Several approaches were investigated—for example, transition layers such as Al2O3 and Al xGa1-xN/GaN—to minimize diffusion of these impurities into the GaN layer.
Silicon, due to its prevalence, is the most promising material for the development of an inexpensive, large-area substrate technology. The challenge in MOCVD growth of GaN on Si is the tensile strain induced by the lattice and thermal mismatch between GaN and Si and the formation of anti-phase boundaries. Typical approaches to solve these problems involve complicated and multiple buffer layer structures, which lead to relatively slow growth rates. In this work, a thin atomic layer deposition (ALD)-grown Al2O3 interlayer was employed to relieve strain and increase material quality while also simplifying the growth process. While some residual strain was still observed in the GaN material by XRD and PL, the use of this oxide interlayer leads to an improvement in thin film quality as seen by a reduction in both crack density (<1 mm-2</super>) on ALD-Al2O3/Si) and screw dislocation density (from 3×109cm-2 on bare Si to 2×108cm-2 on ALD-Al 2O3/Si) in the GaN films.
A side-by-side comparison of GaN-based multiple quantum well LEDs grown on sapphire and on Al2O3/Si shows similar performance characteristic for both device structures. A redshift in peak emission wavelength was also observed on silicon compared to sapphire, and this is attributed to higher indium content due to the slight tensile strain in the layers on silicon. IQE of the devices on silicon is ∼32% as measured by LT-PL, compared to ∼37% on sapphire, but this difference can be assigned to the difference in indium compositions. These results show a great promise toward an inexpensive, large-area, silicon-based substrate technology for MOCVD growth of the next generation of GaN-based optoelectronic devices for SSL and other applications.
0794: Materials science