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Structural and electrical properties of Pd/p-GaN contacts for GaN-based laser diodes

M. Norman-Reiner1, E. Freier1, A. Mogilatenko1, I. Ostermay1, V. Hoffmann1, R. Szukiewicz2, O. Krüger1, D. Hommel2, S. Einfeldt1, M. Weyers1, and G. Tränkle1

Published in:

J. Vac. Sci. Technol. B, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 032211 (2020).


In this paper, the properties of Pd-based p-contacts on GaN-based laser diodes are discussed. Pd is often the metal of choice for ohmic contacts on p-GaN. However, for Pd/p-GaN ohmic contacts, nanovoids observed at the metal/semiconductor interface can have a negative impact on reliability and also reproducibility. The authors present a thorough analysis of the microstructure of the Pd/p-GaN interface by x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). STEM data show that the microvoids at the p-GaN/Pd interface form during rapid thermal annealing. A combination of the following effects is suggested to support the void formation: (1) the differences in thermal expansion coefficients of the materials; (2) excess matrix or impurity atoms in the semiconductor, at the interface, and in the metals, which are released as gases; and (3) the strong antisurfactant effect of Pd on Ga-rich p-GaN surfaces. A slow temperature ramp during contact annealing reduces the formation of voids likely by suppressing the accumulation of gases at the interface. XPS data show that the Ga/N ratio can be reduced by suitable cleaning of the p-GaN surface, which enhances Pd adhesion. As a result, the quality of the contact system is improved by the systematic optimization of the surface cleanliness as well as the annealing parameters, leading to void-free and clean Pd/p-GaN interfaces. The specific contact resistance, extracted from linear transmission line method measurements, is reduced by an order of magnitude to 2 × 10-3 Ω cm2 at 1 mA for the same epitaxial layer stack.

1 Ferdinand-Braun-Institut, Leibniz-Institut für Höchstfrequenztechnik, Gustav-Kirchhoff-Straße 4, 12489 Berlin, Germany
2 Wroclaw Research Center EIT+, Department of Semiconductor Nanostructures, ul. Stablowicka 147, 54-066 Wroclaw, Poland

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