Environmental Sensitivity of Au Diodes on n-AlGaN
Authors: Readinger, E.D.; Mohney, S.E.
Source: Journal of Electronic Materials, Volume 34, Number 4, April 2005 , pp. 375-381(7)
Abstract:With growing interest in AlGaN for ultraviolet detectors and high-power/hightemperature electronic devices, the problem of forming high-quality Schottky contacts to this semiconductor has become increasingly important. It was shown that wet-chemical surface pretreatments affect the as-deposited diode characteristics for Au/n-AlGaN Schottky diodes. However, these diodes improve over the course of days when exposed to air at room temperature, exhibiting reduced leakage currents, enhanced barrier heights, and reduced ideality factors. Exposure to oxygen, with an enhanced effect in the presence of water vapor, is responsible for the environmental aging. The environmental aging was found to occur regardless of the source of AlGaN, surface preparation, and metal deposition technique. It was determined that high asdeposited reverse currents were due to current transport beneath the contact area, rather than across the semiconductor surface. Two findings further suggested that the change in electrical characteristics was due to a phenomenon occurring at the metal/semiconductor interface. First, metal thickness played a key role in the rate of change of the electrical characteristics, with thicker contacts being more impervious to surrounding gas species at room temperature. Second, a metal that readily forms an oxide, Ni, exhibited little environmental aging, while noble metals, such as Au and Pt, showed dramatic effects. Mild anneals revealed that the environmental change was partially reversible, which suggests the passivation of electrically active defects at the metal/semiconductor interface as the cause of the altered diode behavior. Taken together, the data indicate that oxidizing species diffuse through noble metal contacts to the metal/semiconductor interface and passivate electrically active defects, which may be reactivated upon mild anneals in N2.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2005-04-01