Accordingly, we report defect-free behavior in Ni/GaN Schottky diodes with unity ideality factor and fabricated by photolithography. They also exhibit high temperature stability (>600 oC) and low leakage with forward and reverse I-V-T characteristics successfully modeled by a single homogeneous barrier (0.7 eV) by ATLAS simulations. It is significant that the forward and reverse characteristics could be modeled by a common set of parameters without a defect based second diode to model the reverse leakage. XPS chemical and electronic analysis was employed to determine the surface treatment necessary to obtain such a Schottky interface. Consequently, we demonstrate the suitability of GaN surface and interface with metals for high power electronics.
Although a near-ideal diode may be obtained on GaN, the relatively low barrier height limits the GaN Schottky diode to operating voltages <1000V. Increasing the barrier by controlling the Fermi level pinning and producing a camel junction by surface Mg doping is possible.
Passivation is the next challenge to implementing Al/GaN based high power electronics. Silicon nitride has emerged as the standard passivation material for GaN and low Al composition AlxGa1-xN (x<0.3). However, the bandgap of silicon nitride is lower than AlGaN for x>0.75 and the feasibility of silicon nitride functioning as an insulating dielectric (by providing appropriate electron/hole barriers) in Al rich AlGaN and AlN is uncertain. Similarly, reduction of surface states by silicon nitride passivation has not been reported for Al rich AlGaN (x>0.3).
In this work, we have employed X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to determine the band offsets and interface Fermi level at the hetero-junction formed by stoichiometric silicon nitride deposited on metal polar AlxGa1-xN (of varying Al composition ‘x’) via high temperature low pressure chemical vapor deposition. Silicon nitride is found to form a type II staggered band alignment with AlGaN for all Al compositions (0<x<1) and presents an electron barrier into AlGaN even at higher Al compositions where Eg(AlGaN)>Eg(Si3N4). No band bending is observed in AlGaN for x<0.6 and indicating excellent passivation beyond x=0.3. Further a reduced band bending (by 1 eV relative to free surface) is observed for x>0.6. The Fermi level in silicon nitride is found to be at 3 eV with respect to its valence band and is likely due to silicon (≡Si0/-1) dangling bonds. The presence of band bending for x>0.6 is seen as a likely consequence of Fermi level alignment at Si3N4/AlGaN hetero-structure and not due to interface states indicating likely passivation on AlGaN beyond x=0.6. Photoelectron spectroscopy is corroborated by capacitance-voltage measurements. A shift in the interface Fermi level from the conduction band in Si3N4/n-GaN to the valence band in Si3N4/p-GaN is observed which strongly indicates no or greatly reduced mid-gap interface states. Further, required compensation of spontaneous polarization charge is typically performed by oppositely charged surface states/defects on free surface is hypothesized to be replaced by oppositely charged silicon dangling bonds (≡Si0/-1) after passivation. This hypothesis is supported by characterization of silicon nitride on N-polar GaN. In conclusion, HT LPCVD silicon nitride is found to be a suitable passivation for Al rich AlGaN.