Investigation of MOVPE-grown zincblende GaN nucleation layers on 3CSiC/Si substrates

Lee, Lok Yi and Frentrup, Martin and Vacek, Petr and Massabuau, Fabien C.-P. and Kappers, Menno J. and Wallis, David J. and Oliver, Rachel A. (2019) Investigation of MOVPE-grown zincblende GaN nucleation layers on 3CSiC/Si substrates. Journal of Crystal Growth, 524. 125167. ISSN 0022-0248 (

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Cubic zincblende (zb-)GaN nucleation layers (NLs) grown by MOVPE on 3C-SiC/Si substrates were studied to determine their optimal thickness for subsequent zb-GaN epilayer growth. The layers were characterised by atomic force microscopy, X-ray diffraction and scanning transmission electron microscopy. The as-grown NLs, with nominal thicknesses varying from 3 nm to 44 nm, consist of small grains which are elongated in the [1 −1 0] direction, and cover the underlying SiC surface almost entirely. Thermal annealing of the NLs by heating in a H2/NH3 atmosphere to the elevated epilayer growth temperature reduces the substrate coverage of the films that are less than 22 nm thick, due to both material desorption and the ripening of islands. The compressive biaxial in-plane strain of the NLs reduces with increasing NL thickness to the value of relaxed GaN for a thickness of 44 nm. Both the as-grown and annealed NLs are crystalline and have high zincblende phase purity, but contain defects including misfit dislocations and stacking faults. The zb-GaN epilayers grown on the thinnest NLs show an enhanced fraction of the wurtzite phase, most likely formed by nucleation on the exposed substrate surface at elevated temperature, thus dictating the minimum NL thickness for phase-pure zb-GaN epilayer growth.


Lee, Lok Yi, Frentrup, Martin, Vacek, Petr, Massabuau, Fabien C.-P. ORCID logoORCID:, Kappers, Menno J., Wallis, David J. and Oliver, Rachel A.;