The effects of annealing on non-polar (1 1 -2 0) a-plane GaN films

Hao, R and Zhu, T and Haeberlen, M and Chang, T Y and Kappers, M J and Oliver, R A and Humphreys, C J and Moram, M A


Non-polar a-plane (1 1 -2 0) GaN films were grown on r-plane sapphire by metal–organic vapor phase epitaxy and were subsequently annealed for 90 min at 1070 °C. Most dislocations were partial dislocations, which terminated basal plane stacking faults. Prior to annealing, these dislocations were randomly distributed. After annealing, these dislocations moved into arrays oriented along the [0 0 0 1] direction and aligned perpendicular to the film–substrate interface throughout their length, although the total dislocation density remained unchanged. These changes were accompanied by broadening of the symmetric X-ray diffraction 1 1 -2 0 ω-scan widths. The mechanism of movement was identified as dislocation glide, occurring due to highly anisotropic stresses (confirmed by X-ray diffraction lattice parameter measurements) and evidenced by macroscopic slip bands observed on the sample surface. There was also an increase in the density of unintentionally n-type doped electrically conductive inclined features present at the film–substrate interface (as observed in cross-section using scanning capacitance microscopy), suggesting out-diffusion of impurities from the substrate along with prismatic stacking faults. These data suggest that annealing processes performed close to film growth temperatures can affect both the microstructure and the electrical properties of non-polar GaN films.

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Department of Materials
Imperial College London
Royal School of Mines
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London, SW7 2AZ - UK