Comprehensive study on initial thermal oxidation of GaN(0001) surface and subsequent oxide growth in dry oxygen ambient
Yamada, Takahiro*; Ito, Joyo*; Asahara, Ryohei*; Watanabe, Kenta*; Nozaki, Mikito*; Nakazawa, Satoshi*; Anda, Yoshiharu*; Ishida, Masahiro*; Ueda, Tetsuzo*; Yoshigoe, Akitaka ; Hosoi, Takuji*; Shimura, Takayoshi*; Watanabe, Heiji*
Initial oxidation of GaN(0001) epilayers and subsequent growth of thermal oxides in dry oxygen ambient were investigated by means of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, spectroscopic ellipsometry, atomic force microscopy and X-ray diffraction measurements. It was found that, whereas initial oxide formation tends to saturate at temperatures below 800C, selective growth of small oxide grains proceeds at dislocations in the epilayers, followed by noticeable grain growth leading to rough surface morphology at higher oxidation temperatures. This indicates that oxide growth and its morphology are crucially dependent on the defect density in the GaN epilayers. Structural characterizations also revealed that polycrystalline - and -phase GaO grains in an epitaxial relation with the GaN substrate are formed from the initial stage of the oxide growth. On the basis of these experimental findings, we also developed a comprehensive model for GaN oxidation mediated by nitrogen removal and mass transport.