We demonstrate that higher crystalline quality, lower strain and improved electrical characteristics can be achieved in gallium nitride (GaN) epitaxy by using a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrate compared to a bulk silicon (Si) substrate. GaN layers were grown by metal-organic vapor phase epitaxy on 6-inch bulk Si and SOI wafers using the standard step graded AlGaN and AlN approach. The GaN layers grown on SOI exhibited lower strain according to x-ray diffraction analysis. Defect selective etching measurements suggested that the use of SOI substrate for GaN epitaxy reduces the dislocation density approximately by a factor of two. Furthermore, growth on SOI substrate allows one to use a significantly thinner AlGaN buffer compared to bulk Si. Synchrotron radiation x-ray topography analysis confirmed that the stress relief mechanism in GaN on SOI epitaxy is the formation of a dislocation network to the SOI device Si layer. In addition, the buried oxide layer significantly improves the vertical leakage characteristics as the onset of the breakdown is delayed by approximately 400 V. These results show that the GaN on the SOI platform is promising for power electronics applications.
- gallium nitride
- metal-organic vapor phase epitaxy
- silicon on insulator
- x-ray topography