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Study of GaN thin films grown on vicinal SiC (0001) substrates by molecular beam epitaxy

 A detailed study of the characteristics of undoped GaN films, grown on either vicinal or nominal flat SiC (0001) substrates by molecular beam epitaxy, has been carried out using photoluminescence and Raman scattering techniques. The 11 K photoluminescence spectra of the GaN film grown on the vicinal SiC (0001) substrate show a strong and sharp near-bandgap peak (full width at half maximum (FWHM) ~ 16 meV). This feature contrasts with that of the GaN film grown on the nominal flat SiC (0001) substrate where the 11 K photoluminescence spectra exhibit the near-bandgap peak (FWHM ~ 25 meV) and the intensity is approximately seven times weaker than that of the vicinal film sample. The redshift of the near-bandgap peak associated with excitons bound to shallow donors is related to the stress caused by both the lattice mismatch and the thermal expansion coefficient difference between GaN and SiC substrates. The measured thermal activation energy of the shallow donor of 33.4 meV is determined by using an Arrhenius plot of the near-bandgap luminescence versus 1/Tfrom the slope of the graph at high temperature. The temperature dependence of the FWHM of the near-bandgap luminescence has also been studied. The Raman scattering measurements from the vicinal film reveal that the E2 phonon peak is strengthened and the A1(LO) phonon peak is shifted towards the low-frequency side with enhanced intensity, in comparison to that from the nominal flat film, suggesting a reduction in the density of defects and a lower free carrier concentration in the vicinal GaN film.


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