This paper reports an investigation of the structural, chemical and electrical properties of ultra-thin (5 nm) aluminum nitride (AlN) films grown by plasma enhanced atomic layer deposition (PE-ALD) on gallium nitride (GaN). A uniform and conformal coverage of the GaN substrate was demonstrated by morphological analyses of as-deposited AlN films. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) analyses showed a sharp epitaxial interface with GaN for the first AlN atomic layers, while a deviation from the perfect wurtzite stacking and oxygen contamination were detected in the upper part of the film. This epitaxial interface resulted in the formation of a two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) with a sheet charge density ns ≈ 1.45 × 1012 cm−2, revealed by Hg-probe capacitance–voltage (C–V) analyses. Nanoscale resolution current mapping and current–voltage (I–V) measurements by conductive atomic force microscopy (C-AFM) showed a highly homogeneous current transport through the 5 nm AlN barrier, while a uniform flat-band voltage (VFB ≈ 0.3 V) for the AlN/GaN heterostructure was demonstrated by scanning capacitance microscopy (SCM). Electron transport through the AlN film was shown to follow the Fowler–Nordheim (FN) tunneling mechanism with an average barrier height of = 2.08 eV, in good agreement with the expected AlN/GaN conduction band offset.
Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
1 Dec 2021
Volume: 11 Issue: 12 Pages: 3316