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High-Quality GaN Epilayers Achieved by Facet-Controlled Epitaxial Lateral Overgrowth on Sputtered AlN/PSS Templates

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journal contribution
posted on 22.11.2017 by Chenguang He, Wei Zhao, Kang Zhang, Longfei He, Hualong Wu, Ningyang Liu, Shan Zhang, Xiaoyan Liu, Zhitao Chen
It is widely believed that the lack of high-quality GaN wafers severely hinders the progress in GaN-based devices, especially for defect-sensitive devices. Here, low-cost AlN buffer layers were sputtered on cone-shaped patterned sapphire substrates (PSSs) to obtain high-quality GaN epilayers. Without any mask or regrowth, facet-controlled epitaxial lateral overgrowth was realized by metal–organic chemical vapor deposition. The uniform coating of the sputtered AlN buffer layer and the optimized multiple modulation guaranteed high growth selectivity and uniformity of the GaN epilayer. As a result, an extremely smooth surface was achieved with an average roughness of 0.17 nm over 3 × 3 μm2. It was found that the sputtered AlN buffer layer could significantly suppress dislocations on the cones. Moreover, the optimized three-dimensional growth process could effectively promote dislocation bending. Therefore, the threading dislocation density (TDD) of the GaN epilayer was reduced to 4.6 × 107 cm–2, which is about an order of magnitude lower than the case of two-step GaN on the PSS. In addition, contamination and crack in the light-emitting diode fabricated on the obtained GaN were also effectively suppressed by using the sputtered AlN buffer layer. All of these advantages led to a high output power of 116 mW at 500 mA with an emission wavelength of 375 nm. This simple, yet effective growth technique is believed to have great application prospects in high-performance TDD-sensitive optoelectronic and electronic devices.