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AlN epitaxy on SiC by low-temperature atomic layer deposition via layer-by-layer, in situ atomic layer annealing

Kao, Wei-Chung, Lee, Wei-Hao, Yi, Sheng-Han, Shen, Tsung-Han, Lin, Hsin-Chih, Chen, Miin-Jang
RSC advances 2019 v.9 no.22 pp. 12226-12231
X-ray diffraction, annealing, argon (noble gases), atomic force microscopy, crystallization, energy, helium, silicon carbide, temperature, transmission electron microscopy
AlN thin films were epitaxially grown on a 4H-SiC substrate via atomic layer deposition (ALD) along with atomic layer annealing (ALA). By applying the layer-by-layer, in situ ALA treatment using helium/argon plasma in each ALD cycle, the as-deposited film gets crystallization energy from the plasma, which results in significant enhancement of the crystal quality to achieve a highly crystalline AlN epitaxial layer at a deposition temperature as low as 300 °C. In a nanoscale AlN epitaxial layer with a thickness of ∼30 nm, X-ray diffraction reveals a low full-width-at-half-maximum of the AlN (0002) peak of only 176.4 arcsec. Atomic force microscopy, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, and Fourier diffractograms indicate a smooth surface and high-quality hetero-epitaxial growth of a nanoscale AlN layer on 4H-SiC. This research demonstrates the impact of the ALA treatment on the evolution of ALD techniques from conventional thin film deposition to low-temperature atomic layer epitaxy.