Development of III-nitride bipolar devices: avalanche photodiodes, laser diodes, and double-heterojunction bipolar transistors
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This dissertation describes the development of III-nitride (III-N) bipolar devices for optoelectronic and electronic applications. Research mainly involves device design, fabrication process development, and device characterization for Geiger-mode gallium nitride (GaN) deep-UV (DUV) p-i-n avalanche photodiodes (APDs), indium gallium nitride (InGaN)/GaN-based violet/blue laser diodes (LDs), and GaN/InGaN-based npn radio-frequency (RF) double-heterojunction bipolar transistors (DHBTs). All the epitaxial materials of these devices were grown in the Advanced Materials and Devices Group (AMDG) led by Prof. Russell D. Dupuis at the Georgia Institute of Technology using the metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) technique. Geiger-mode GaN p-i-n APDs have important applications in DUV and UV single-photon detections. In the fabrication of GaN p-i-n APDs, the major technical challenge is the sidewall leakage current. To address this issue, two surface leakage reduction schemes have been developed: a wet-etching surface treatment technique to recover the dry-etching-induced surface damage, and a ledged structure to form a surface depletion layer to partially passivate the sidewall. The first Geiger-mode DUV GaN p-i-n APD on a free-standing (FS) c-plane GaN substrate has been demonstrated. InGaN/GaN-based violet/blue/green LDs are the coherent light sources for high-density optical storage systems and the next-generation full-color LD display systems. The design of InGaN/GaN LDs has several challenges, such as the quantum-confined stark effect (QCSE), the efficiency droop issue, and the optical confinement design optimization. In this dissertation, a step-graded electron-blocking layer (EBL) is studied to address the efficiency droop issue. Enhanced internal quantum efficiency (ɳi) has been observed on 420-nm InGaN/GaN-based LDs. Moreover, an InGaN waveguide design is implemented, and the continuous-wave (CW)-mode operation on 460-nm InGaN/GaN-based LDs is achieved at room temperature (RT). III-N HBTs are promising devices for the next-generation RF and power electronics because of their advantages of high breakdown voltages, high power handling capability, and high-temperature and harsh-environment operation stability. One of the major technical challenges to fabricate high-performance RF III-N HBTs is to suppress the base surface recombination current on the extrinsic base region. The wet-etching surface treatment has also been employed to lower the surface recombination current. As a result, a record small-signal current gain (hfe) > 100 is achieved on GaN/InGaN-based npn DHBTs on sapphire substrates. A cut-off frequency (fT) > 5.3 GHz and a maximum oscillation frequency (fmax) > 1.3 GHz are also demonstrated for the first time. Furthermore, A FS c-plane GaN substrate with low epitaxial defect density and good thermal dissipation ability is used for reduced base bulk recombination current. The hfe > 115, collector current density (JC) > 141 kA/cm², and power density > 3.05 MW/cm² are achieved at RT, which are all the highest values reported ever on III-N HBTs.