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Electrical characterization and nanoscale surface morphology of optimized Ti/Al/Ta/Au ohmic contact for AlGaN/GaN HEMT

Cong Wang and Nam-Young Kim*

Author Affiliations

RFIC Centre, Kwangwoon University, 617-2, Bima-Kwan, 26 Kwangwon-Gil, Nowon-Ku, Seoul, South Korea

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:107  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-107

Published: 7 February 2012


Good ohmic contacts with low contact resistance, smooth surface morphology, and a well-defined edge profile are essential to ensure optimal device performances for the AlGaN/GaN high electron mobility transistors [HEMTs]. A tantalum [Ta] metal layer and an SiNx thin film were used for the first time as an effective diffusion barrier and encapsulation layer in the standard Ti/Al/metal/Au ohmic metallization scheme in order to obtain high quality ohmic contacts with a focus on the thickness of Ta and SiNx. It is found that the Ta thickness is the dominant factor affecting the contact resistance, while the SiNx thickness affects the surface morphology significantly. An optimized Ti/Al/Ta/Au ohmic contact including a 40-nm thick Ta barrier layer and a 50-nm thick SiNx encapsulation layer is preferred when compared with the other conventional ohmic contact stacks as it produces a low contact resistance of around 7.27 × 10-7 Ω·cm2 and an ultra-low nanoscale surface morphology with a root mean square deviation of around 10 nm. Results from the proposed study play an important role in obtaining excellent ohmic contact formation in the fabrication of AlGaN/GaN HEMTs.

ohmic contact; contact resistance; surface morphology; edge line definition; high electron mobility transistor