Etch Processing of III-V Nitrides
MRS Internet Journal of Nitride Semiconductor Research
As III-V nitride devices advance in technological importance, a fundamental understanding of device processing techniques becomes essential. Recent works have exposed various aspects of etch processes. The most recent advances and the greatest remaining challenges in the etching of GaN, AlN, and InN are reviewed. A more detailed presentation is given with respect to GaN high density plasma etching. In particular, the results of parametric and fundamental studies of GaN etching in a high density
... g in a high density plasma are described. The effect of ion energy and mass on surface electronic properties is reported. Experimental results identify preferential sputtering as the leading cause of observed surface non-stoichiometry. This mechanism provides excellent surfaces for ohmic contacts to n-type GaN, but presents a major obstacle for Schottky contacts or ohmic contacts to p-type GaN. Chlorine-based discharges minimize this stoichiometry problem by improving the rate of gallium removal from the surface. In an effort to better understand the high density plasma etching process for GaN, in-situ mass spectrometry is employed to study the chlorine-based high density plasma etching process. Gallium chloride mass peaks were monitored in a highly surface sensitive geometry as a function of microwave power (ion flux), total pressure (neutral flux), and ion energy. Microwave power and pressure dependencies clearly demonstrate the importance of reactive ions in the etching of wide band gap materials. The ion energy dependence demonstrates the importance of adequate ion energy to promote a reasonable etch rate (≥100-150 eV). The benefits of ion-assisted chemical etching are diminished for ion energies in excess of 350 V, placing an upper limit to the useful ion energy range for etching GaN. The impact of these results on device processing will be discussed and future needs identified.