DOI: 10.1063/5.0165867 ISSN: 0021-8979

Air stable plasma passivation of GaAs at room temperature

Christoffer Kauppinen
  • General Physics and Astronomy

GaAs surfaces require electrical and chemical passivation for semiconductor devices, but in order to have air stable passivation, high temperatures have been previously required in the passivation step. Here, we demonstrate air-stable, ex situ plasma passivation of GaAs using consecutive hydrogen and nitrogen plasmas at room temperature. No pre-clean using deoxidizing wet chemistry or other means is required. The hydrogen plasma step removes surface oxides and As, which leaves a Ga-rich layer that the nitrogen plasma then turns to GaN. The formed GaN layer efficiently passivates the surface. The plasma-passivated GaAs shows upto 5× room-temperature photoluminescence after 1 year, and room-temperature time-resolved photoluminescence demonstrates robust passivation even after 3 years, both comparisons to similarly aged unpassivated GaAs. Atomic force microscopy was used to confirm that the passivated surfaces can be made smooth enough for microelectronic applications. Grazing incidence x-ray diffraction indicated that the nitride films are amorphous, and energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy was used to estimate the nitrogen content. We used a common inductively coupled plasma reactive ion etching system for plasma passivation, thus enabling the rapid adoption of this technique.

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