On the nucleation, coalescence, and overgrowth of HVPE GaN on misoriented sapphire substrates and the origin of pinholes
The nucleation of HVPE GaN on misoriented sapphire substrates and the transition from the nucleation layer to an epitaxial film were investigated. After a KOH/NaOH eutectic etch of the approximately 45μm thick GaN layer, grown on sapphire using a low temperature nucleation, high temperature epitaxy process, the cross-sections revealed columnar structures, up to roughly 1μm above the sapphire substrate. Photoetching of the thick GaN layers revealed inhomogeneous defect distributions along the cross-sections, which appeared to be related to the numerous pinholes originating at the GaN/sapphire interface. We present a model explaining the formation of pinholes by the coalescence of the GaN nuclei during the epitaxial overgrowth.