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Home > News > Numerical investigation of pulsed chemical vapor deposition of aluminum nitride to reduce particle formation
Numerical investigation of pulsed chemical vapor deposition of aluminum nitride to reduce particle formation
Particles of aluminum nitride (AlN) have been observed to form during epitaxial growth of AlN films by metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD). Particle formation is undesirable because particles do not contribute to the film growth, and are detrimental to the hydraulic system of the reactor. It is believed that particle formation is triggered by adducts that are formed when the group-III precursor, namely tri-methyl-aluminum (TMAl), and the group-V precursor, namely ammonia (NH3), come in direct contact in the gas-phase. Thus, one way to eliminate particle formation is to prevent the group-III and the group-V precursors from coming in direct contact at all in the gas-phase. In this article, pulsing of TMAl and NH3 is numerically investigated as a means to reduce AlN particle formation. The investigations are conducted using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis with the inclusion of detailed chemical reaction mechanisms both in the gas-phase and at the surface. The CFD code is first validated for steady-state (non-pulsed) MOCVD of AlN against published data. Subsequently, it is exercised for pulsed MOCVD with various pulse widths, precursor gas flow rates, wafer temperature, and reactor pressure. It is found that in order to significantly reduce particle formation, the group-III and group-V precursors need to be separated by a carrier gas pulse, and the carrier gas pulse should be at least 5–6 times as long as the precursor gas pulses. The studies also reveal that with the same time-averaged precursor gas flow rates as steady injection (non-pulsed) conditions, pulsed MOCVD can result in higher film growth rates because the precursors are incorporated into the film, rather than being wasted as particles. The improvement in growth rate was noted for both horizontal and vertical reactors, and was found to be most pronounced for intermediate wafer temperature and intermediate reactor pressure.
Highlights
► Pulsing of precursor gases was used to reduce aluminum nitride (AlN) particle formation.
► For any reactor configuration, pulsed MOCVD reduces particle formation and improves growth rate.
► Group III and group V precursors, namely TMAl and NH3, must be separated by a carrier gas pulse.
► Carrier gas pulse width of 5–6 times that of the precursor pulse results in the highest growth rate.
 
Source: Journal of Crystal Growth
 
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