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Substrates for gallium nitride epitaxy
In this review, the structural, mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties of substrates used for gallium nitride (GaN) epitaxy are compiled, and the properties of GaN films deposited on these substrates are reviewed. Among semiconductors, GaN is unique; most of its applications uses thin GaN films deposited on foreign substrates (materials other than GaN); that is, heteroepitaxial thin films. As a consequence of heteroepitaxy, the quality of the GaN films is very dependent on the properties of the substrate—both the inherent properties such as lattice constants and thermal expansion coefficients, and process induced properties such as surface roughness, step height and terrace width, and wetting behavior.
The consequences of heteroepitaxy are discussed, including the crystallographic orientation and polarity, surface morphology, and inherent and thermally induced stress in the GaN films. Defects such as threading dislocations, inversion domains, and the unintentional incorporation of impurities into the epitaxial GaN layer resulting from heteroepitaxy are presented along with their effect on device processing and performance. A summary of the structure and lattice constants for many semiconductors, metals, metal nitrides, and oxides used or considered for GaN epitaxy is presented.
The properties, synthesis, advantages and disadvantages of the six most commonly employed substrates (sapphire, 6H-SiC, Si, GaAs, LiGaO2, and AlN) are presented. Useful substrate properties such as lattice constants, defect densities, elastic moduli, thermal expansion coefficients, thermal conductivities, etching characteristics, and reactivities under deposition conditions are presented. Efforts to reduce the defect densities and to optimize the electrical and optical properties of the GaN epitaxial film by substrate etching, nitridation, and slight misorientation from the (0 0 0 1) crystal plane are reviewed. The requirements, the obstacles, and the results to date to produce zincblende GaN on 3C-SiC/Si(0 0 1) and GaAs are discussed. Tables summarizing measures of the GaN quality such as XRD rocking curve FWHM, photoluminescence peak position and FWHM, and electron mobilities for GaN epitaxial layers produced by MOCVD, MBE, and HVPE for each substrate are given. The initial results using GaN substrates, prepared as bulk crystals and as free-standing epitaxial films, are reviewed. Finally, the promise and the directions of research on new potential substrates, such as compliant and porous substrates are described.
Source: Materials Science and Engineering: R: Reports

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