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Role of oxygen diffusion in the dislocation reduction of epitaxial AlN on sapphire during high-temperature annealing

L. Cancellara1, T. Markurt1, T. Schulz1, M. Albrecht1, S. Hagedorn2, S. Walde2, M. Weyers2, S. Washiyama3, R. Collazo3, and Z. Sitar3

Published in:

J. Appl. Phys., vol. 130, no. 20, pp. 203101, doi:10.1063/5.0065935 (2021).


Recovery of epitaxial AlN films on sapphire at high temperatures is now an established process to produce pseudo-substrates with high crystalline perfection, which can be used to grow epitaxial structures for UV-light-emitting devices. To elucidate the elementary mechanisms taking place during the thermal treatment of MOVPE-grown films, we studied as-grown and annealed samples combining transmission electron microscopy techniques and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). By using SIMS, we find a temperature-dependent increase in the overall oxygen content of the films, which cannot be explained quantitatively with either simple bulk or pure pipe-diffusion from the sapphire substrate. Instead, we propose a lateral outdiffusion from the dislocation cores to explain qualitatively and quantitatively the presence of observed oxygen concentration plateaus. Based on the formation enthalpy of various atomic defects and complexes found in literature, we conclude that the di-oxygen/aluminum vacancy complex (VAl-2ON) is the dominant point defect controlling the annealing process. The formation of this defect at high temperatures promotes a dislocation core climb process, which causes the annihilation/fusion of the threading dislocation segments.

1 Leibniz-Institut für Kristallzüchtung, Max-Born-Str. 2, 12489 Berlin, Germany
2 Ferdinand-Braun-Institut gGmbH, Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik, Gustav-Kirchhoff-Str. 4, 12489 Berlin, Germany
3 Department of Materials Science and Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695-7919, USA


Annealing, Semiconductor device fabrication, Light emitting diode materials, Secondary ion mass spectrometry, Transmission electron microscopy, Epitaxy, Diffusion, Crystallographic defects

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