Local defect-enhanced anodic oxidation of reformed GaN nanowires

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Understanding formation and distribution of defects in GaN substrates and device layers is needed to improve device performance in rf and power electronics. Here we utilize conductive atomic force microscopy (c-AFM) for studying defect-related leakage paths in an unintentionally doped GaN film formed by nanowire reformation. A nanoscopic Schottky contact is formed between the c-AFM probe and the GaN surface, which, under reverse-bias conditions, reveals local leakage currents at the positions of the nanowires. Cathodoluminescence shows these areas to be dominated by yellow-band luminescence, in contrast to the surrounding GaN matrix, which mainly shows near-band-gap luminescence. These results are attributed to a high density of native and residual defects, confined to the nanowires. In addition, we use anodic oxidation to map defect-related conductive paths through locally induced growth of gallium oxide. The oxide yield, which is known to depend on the local electric field strength between the AFM tip and the sample, correlates well with the level of reverse-bias leakage current. Local irregularities in oxide height reveal extended oxidation attributed to defect-related deep-level states. This
is confirmed by controlled dissolution of the oxide in NaOH, showing that a deeper oxide film is grown over areas where defect-related conductive paths are formed. Finally, we demonstrate how this approach can be used as a quick and easy diagnostic tool for evaluating the influence of specific growth conditions and process steps on defect-induced leakage current levels and defect distribution in GaN structures, demonstrating its potential for accelerated test of leakage degradation at critical positions in GaN-based devices.


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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Condensed Matter Physics
Original languageEnglish
Article number074603
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Review Materials
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul 7
Publication categoryResearch