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Phonon and free-charge carrier properties in group-III nitride heterostructures investigated by spectroscopic ellipsometry and optical Hall effect

Stefan Schoeche, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The material class of group-III nitrides gained tremendous technological importance for optoelectronic and high-power/high-frequency amplification devices. Tunability of the direct band gap from 0.65 eV (InN) to 6.2 eV (AlN) by alloying, high breakthrough voltages and intrinsic mobilities, as well as the formation of highly mobile 2d electron gases (2DEG) at heterointerfaces make these compounds ideal for many applications. GaN and Ga-rich alloys are well studied and current research is mainly device-oriented. For example, choice and quality of the gate dielectric significantly influence device performance in high-electron mobility transistors (HEMT) which utilize highly mobile 2DEGs at heterointerfaces. Experimental access to the 2DEG channel properties without influence from parasitic currents or contact properties are desirable. In- and Al-rich ternary alloys are less explored than Ga-rich compounds. For InN and In-rich alloys, while many material parameters such as stiffness constants or effective mass values are largely unknown, reliable p-type doping is a major challenge, also because p-type conducting channels are buried within highly conductive n-type material formed at the surface and interfaces preventing electrical characterization. For AlN and high-Al content alloys, doping mechanisms are not understood and reliable fabrication of material with high free-charge carrier (FCC) concentrations was achieved just recently. Difficulties to form ohmic contacts impair electrical measurements and optical characterization is impeded by lack of high-energy excitation sources. In this work, spectroscopic ellipsometry over the wide spectral range from the THz to VUV in combination with optical Hall effect (generalized ellipsometry with applied magnetic field) from THz to MIR are applied in order to investigate the phonon modes and FCC properties in group-III nitride heterostructures. Adequate model descriptions and analysis strategies are introduced which allow contact-less characterization of the anisotropic IR dielectric function tensor and phonon mode parameters in arbitrarily oriented uniaxial compounds often used as substrate material such as bulk single-crystalline rutile TiO 2, to characterize the phonon and FCC parameters in Al-rich AlGaN:Si thin films including effective mass tensor, and to identify and characterize buried p-type conducting channels within InN:Mg samples. THz optical Hall effect is introduced as novel, contactless method to investigate sheet density, in-plane effective mass, and in-plane mobility parameters for 2DEGs formed within group-III nitride based HEMT structures. The theory is outlined and simple measurement schemes which dispense with the need of complex model analysis are proposed.

Subject Area

Physics|Optics|Materials science

Recommended Citation

Schoeche, Stefan, "Phonon and free-charge carrier properties in group-III nitride heterostructures investigated by spectroscopic ellipsometry and optical Hall effect" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3637693.