Space-charge-controlled field emission analysis of current conduction in amorphous and crystallized atomic-layer-deposited Al2O3on GaN

Atsushi Hiraiwa*, Kiyotaka Horikawa, Hiroshi Kawarada

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


As previously reported, postdeposition annealing at 800 °C and higher simultaneously crystallizes atomic-layer-deposited (ALD) Al2O3 films and reduces the current in Al/ALD-Al2O3/(0001) GaN capacitors by two orders of magnitude. This current reduction is caused by the enhancement of conduction band offset from 1.4 to 1.8 eV, as revealed by the space-charge-controlled field emission analysis. Selected area electron diffraction (SAED) patterns demonstrate that the crystallized films consist of twinned (111)-oriented cubic γ-Al2O3 with an epitaxial relation of Al2O3 ⟨ 0 1 ¯ 1 ⟩ ∥ GaN ⟨ 2 1 ¯ 1 ¯ 0 ⟩. The SAED patterns additionally include spots that are specific to triaxially tripled γ-Al2O3. The aforementioned epitaxy is due to the similarity of hexagonal close-packed sublattices between oxygen on a (111) γ-Al2O3 plane and nitrogen on a (0001) GaN plane. However, the hexagonal close-packed lattice constant of γ-Al2O3 is 12% smaller than that of GaN, necessitating domain matching epitaxy. The thickness of the interfacial transition layer caused by the large misfit is estimated to be thinner than four monolayers of oxygen sublattice, by using the methodology developed here. Based on these results, the effect of Al2O3 crystallinity on the characteristics of Al2O3/GaN capacitors, such as conduction current, dielectric breakdown, interface states, and bias instability, was comprehensively captured. According to x-ray diffraction analyses, Al2O3 films crystallize at 700 °C, which is ∼100 °C lower than the threshold temperature estimated by transmission electron microscope observations. This difference was possibly caused by locally crystallized Al2O3 films, as confirmed by the slightly reduced current. These findings form a basis for improving ALD-Al2O3 films as gate insulator.

Original languageEnglish
Article number195303
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May 21

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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