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Posted: October 30, 2008
Crack-Free AlN Layers on Sapphire With LayTec's EpiCurveR TT
(Nanowerk News) At the International Workshop on Nitride Semiconductors
(IWN) in Switzerland on 6–10 October, Prof. Misaichi Takeuchi
of the Ritsumeikan University, Japan, presented in-situ
curvature measurements gained with LayTec‘s EpiCurve®R TT
metrology system on AIXTRON 200 RF-S MOCVD reactor. The
sensor combines wafer bowing, temperature and growth rate
monitoring with spectroscopic reflectance measurements.
Prof. Takeuchi and his team used the measurement system
to develop a new growth method for crack-free thick AlN layers
on sapphire and of n-AlGaN on AlN/sapphire in order to
optimize AlGaN-based deep UV emitters and high-voltage
For these devices the simplest way to improve the layer
quality, i.e. to reduce XRD FWHM values, is to grow thicker
layers. At the same time, cracking caused by strain relaxation
at critical thickness has to be avoided. To control the
strain, Prof. Takeuchi used EpiCurve®R TT to monitor wafer
curvature, spectroscopic reflectance (λ=330–750 nm) and the
real wafer temperature simultaneously. The measurements
enabled him to follow the nano-scale surface-morphological
evolution and to understand the influence of AlN growth parameters
on the critical thickness.
This work showed that the Al-polar oriented growth had a
tendency to enhance wafer bowing and film stress, whereas
N-polar growth did not. With this knowledge, Prof. Takeuchi
developed a new two-step growth procedure consisting of pre-treatment stages with NH3 or TMAl to control the surface
polarity, seed layer growth, annealing and overgrowth stages
for generating low-strain Al-polar films.
Curvature measurements: black curve - 1 step growth TMAl pre-treatment of 0 sec; red curve - 1 step growth TMAl pre-treatment of 150 sec; green curve - 2 step growth, TMAl=0 sec, NH3 during annealing; blue curve - 2 step growth, TMAl=0 sec, without NH3 during annealing.
The figure above shows the curvature data of samples with the single-step
growth with TMAl pre-treatment of 0 sec (including some Npolar
grains) and 150 sec (completely Al-polar), and the twostep
growth with and without NH3 during annealing of the
TMAl = 0 sec seeding layers. The surface polarity of both twostep
growth samples have been unified to Al-polar. However,
the strain in both samples is effectively reduced compared
with the Al-polar sample of TMAl=150 sec. Hence, low-strain
AlN films with Al-polar surface have been formed. Furthermore,
the research showed that (002) and (102) XRD FWHM values
were drastically improved by the two-step growth.
At the IWN, Prof. Takeuchi also presented the results of
growth of AlN layers inserted beneath highly doped AlGaN
layers on sapphire. In this case, wafer bowing and cracking
are serious problems because highly Si-doped n-AlGaN layers
enhance concave bowing. EpiCurve®R TT detected the
related doping-induced accumulation of tensile stress. Prof.
Takeuchi could directly correlate this effect to ex-situ XRD
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