GaN and AlGaN have shown great potential in next-generation power and RF electronics. However, these devices are limited by reliability issues such as leakage current and current collapse that result from surface and interface states on GaN and AlGaN. This dissertation, therefore, examined these electronic states, focusing on the following two points:
First, the surface electronic state configuration was examined with regards to the polarization bound 1013 charges/cm2 that increases with aluminum content. This large bound charge requires compensation either externally by surface states or internally by the space charge regions as relates to band bending. In this work, band bending was measured after different surface treatments of GaN and AlGaN to determine the effects of specific surface states on the electronic state configuration. Results showed oxygen-terminated N-face GaN, Ga-face GaN, and Ga-face Al0.25Ga0.75N surface were characterized by similar band bending regardless of the polarization bound charge, suggesting a Fermi level pinning state ~0.4-0.8 eV below the conduction band minimum. On oxygen-free Ga-face GaN, Al0.15Ga0.85N, Al0.25Ga0.75N, and Al0.35Ga0.65N, band bending increased slightly with aluminum content and thus did not exhibit the same pinning behavior; however, there was still significant compensating charge on these surfaces (~1013 charges/cm2). This charge is likely related to nitrogen vacancies and/or gallium dangling bonds.
In addition, this wozrk investigated the interface electronic state configuration of dielectric/GaN and AlGaN interfaces with regards to deposition conditions and aluminum content. Specifically, oxygen plasma-enhanced atomic layer deposited (PEALD) was used to deposit SiO2. Growth temperature was shown to influence the film quality, where room temperature deposition produced the highest quality films in terms of electrical breakdown. In addition, the valence band offsets (VBOs) appeared to decrease with the deposition temperature, which likely related to an electric field across the Ga2O3 interfacial layer. VBOs were also determined with respect to aluminum content at the PEALD-SiO2/AlxGa1-xN interface, giving 3.0, 2.9, 2.9, and 2.8 eV for 0%, 15%, 25%, and 35% aluminum content, respectively—with corresponding conduction band offsets of 2.5, 2.2, 1.9, and 1.8 eV. This suggests the largest difference manifests in the conduction band, which is in agreement with the charge neutrality level model.