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Near-surface processing on AlGaN/GaN heterostructures: a nanoscale electrical and structural characterization

Giuseppe Greco12, Filippo Giannazzo1, Alessia Frazzetto1, Vito Raineri1 and Fabrizio Roccaforte1*

Author Affiliations

1 Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche - Istituto per la Microelettronica e Microsistemi (CNR-IMM), Strada VIII n. 5, Zona Industriale, 95121 Catania, Italy

2 Scuola Superiore di Catania, University of Catania, Piazza dell'Università, 2, 95124, Catania, Italy

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:132  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-132

Published: 11 February 2011


The effects of near-surface processing on the properties of AlGaN/GaN heterostructures were studied, combining conventional electrical characterization on high-electron mobility transistors (HEMTs), with advanced characterization techniques with nanometer scale resolution, i.e., transmission electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM) and conductive atomic force microscopy (C-AFM). In particular, a CHF3-based plasma process in the gate region resulted in a shift of the threshold voltage in HEMT devices towards less negative values. Two-dimensional current maps acquired by C-AFM on the sample surface allowed us to monitor the local electrical modifications induced by the plasma fluorine incorporated in the material.

The results are compared with a recently introduced gate control processing: the local rapid thermal oxidation process of the AlGaN layer. By this process, a controlled thin oxide layer on surface of AlGaN can be reliably introduced while the resistance of the layer below increase locally.