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Electronic Devices Based on Ultra-wide Bandgap AlN and β-Ga2O3: Device Fabrication, Radiation Effects, and Defect Characterization

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The advent of silicon, germanium, narrow-gap III-V materials, and later the wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, and their subsequent revolution and enrichment of daily life begs the question: what is the next generation of semiconductor electronics poised to look like? Ultrawide

The advent of silicon, germanium, narrow-gap III-V materials, and later the wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, and their subsequent revolution and enrichment of daily life begs the question: what is the next generation of semiconductor electronics poised to look like? Ultrawide bandgap (UWBG) semiconductors are the class of semiconducting materials that possess an electronic bandgap (EG) greater than that of gallium nitride (GaN), which is 3.4 eV. They currently consist of beta-phase gallium oxide (β-Ga2O3 ; EG = 4.6–4.9 eV), diamond (EG = 5.5 eV), aluminum nitride (AlN; EG =6.2 eV), cubic boron nitride (BN; EG = 6.4 eV), and other materials hitherto undiscovered. Such a strong emphasis is placed on the semiconductor bandgap because so many relevant electronic performance properties scale positively with the bandgap. Where power electronics is concerned, the Baliga's Figure of Merit (BFOM) quantifies how much voltage a device can block in the off state and how high its conductivity is in the on state. The BFOM has a sixth-order dependence on the bandgap. The UWBG class of semiconductors also possess the potential for higher switching efficiencies and power densities and better suitability for deep-UV and RF optoelectronics. Many UWBG materials have very tight atomic lattices and high displacement energies, which makes them suitable for extreme applications such as radiation-harsh environments commonly found in military, industrial, and outer space applications. In addition, the UWBG materials also show promise for applications in quantum information sciences. For all the inherent promise and burgeoning research efforts, key breakthroughs in UWBG research have only occurred as recently as within the last two to three decades, making them extremely immature in comparison with the well-known WBG materials and others before them. In particular, AlN suffers from a lack of wide availability of low-cost, highquality substrates, a stark contrast to β-Ga2O3, which is now readily commercially available. In order to realize more efficient and varied devices on the relatively nascent UWBG materials platform, a deeper understanding of the various devices and physics is necessary. The following thesis focuses on the UWBG materials AlN and β-Ga2O3, overlooking radiation studies, a novel device heterojunction, and electronic defect study.

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2021