Deep levels in SiC
Abstract: Silicon carbide (SiC) has been discussed as a promising material for high power bipolar devices for almost twenty years. Advances in SiC crystal growth especially the development of chemical vapor deposition (CVD) have enabled the fabrication of high quality material. Much progress has further been achieved in identifying minority charge carrier lifetime limiting defects, which may be attributed to structural defects, surface recombination or point defects located in the band gap of SiC.Deep levels can act as recombination centers by interacting with both the valence and conduction band. As such, the defect levels reduce the minority charge carrier lifetime, which is of great importance in bipolar devices.Impurities in semiconductors play an important role to adjust their semiconducting properties. Intentional doping can introduce shallow defect levels to increase the conductivity or deep levels for achieving semi-insulating (SI) SiC. Impurities, especially transition metals generate defect levels deep in the band gap of SiC, which trap charge carriers and thus reduce the charge carrier lifetime. Transition metals, such as vanadium, are used in SiC to compensate the residual nitrogen doping.It has previously been reported that valence band edges of the different SiC polytypes are pinned to the same level and that deep levels related to transition metals can serve as a common reference level; this is known as the LANGER-HEINRICH (LH) rule.Electron irradiation introduces or enhances the concentration of existing point defects, such as the carbon vacancy (VC) and the carbon interstitial (Ci). Limiting the irradiation energy, Eirr, below the displacement energy of silicon in the SiC lattice (Eirr < 220 keV), the generated defects can be attributed to carbon related defects, which are already created at lower Eirr. Ci are mobile at low temperatures and using low temperature heat treatments, the annealing behavior of the introduced Ci and their complexes can be studied.Deep levels, which appear and disappear depending on the electrical, thermal and optical conditions prior to the measurements are associated with metastable defects. These defects can exist in more than one configuration, which itself can have different charge states. Capacitance transient investigations, where the defect’s occupation is studied by varying the depletion region in a diode, can be used to observe such occupational changes. Such unstable behavior may influence device performance, since defects may be electrically active in one configuration and inactive after transformation to another configuration.This thesis is focused on electrical characterization of deep levels in SiC using deep level transient spectroscopy (DLTS). The first part, papers 1-4, is dedicated to defect studies of both impurities and intrinsic defects in as-grown material. The second part, consisting of papers 5-7, is dealing with the defect content after electron irradiation and the annealing behavior of the introduced deep levels.In the first part, transition metal incorporation of iron (Fe) and tungsten (W) is discussed in papers 1 and 2, respectively. Fe and W are possible candidates to compensate the residual nitrogen doping in SiC. The doping with Fe resulted in one level in n-type material and two levels in p-type 4H-SiC. The capture process is strongly coupled to the lattice. Secondary ion mass spectrometry measurements detected the presence of B and Fe. The defects are suggested to be related to Fe and/or Fe-B-pairs.Previous reports on tungsten doping showed that W gives rise to two levels (one shallow and one deep) in 4H- and only one deep level in 6H-SiC. In 3C-SiC, we detected two levels, one likely related to W and one intrinsic defect, labeled E1. The W related energy level aligns well with the deeper levels observed in 4H- and 6H-SiC in agreement with the LH rule.The LH rule is observed from experiments to be also valid for intrinsic levels. The level related to the DLTS peak EH6=7 in 4H-SiC aligns with the level related to E7 in 6H-SiC as well as with the level related to E1 in 3C-SiC. The alignment suggests that these levels may originate from the same defect, probably the VC, which has been proposed previously for 4H- and 6H-SiC.In paper 3, electrical characterization of 3C-layers grown heteroepitaxially on different SiC substrates is discussed. The material was of high quality with a low background doping concentration and SCHOTTKY diodes were fabricated. It was observed that nickel as rectifying contact material exhibits a similar barrier height as the previously suggested gold. A leakage current in the low nA range at a reverse bias of -2 V was achieved, which allowed capacitance transient measurements. One defect related to DLTS peak E1, previously presented in paper 2, was detected and suggested to be related to an intrinsic defect.Paper 4 gives the evidence that chloride-based CVD grown material yields the same kind of defects as reported for standard CVD growth processes. However, for very high growth rates, exceeding 100 mm/h, an additional defect is observed as well as an increase of the Ti-concentration. Based on the knowledge from paper 2, the origin of the additional peak and the assumed increase of Ti-concentration can instead both be attributed to the deeper and the shallower level of tungsten in 4H-SiC, respectively.In the second part of the thesis, studies of low-energy (200 keV) electron irradiated as-grown 4H-SiC were performed. In paper 5, bistable defects, labeled EB-centers, evolved in the DLTS spectrum after the annihilation of the irradiation induced defect levels related to DLTS peaks EH1, EH3 and the bistable M-center. In a detailed annealing study presented in paper 6, the partial transformation of M-centers into the EB-centers is discussed. The transition between the two defects (M-centers → EB-centers) takes place at rather low temperatures (T ≈ 400 oC), which suggests a mobile defect as origin. The M-center and the EB-centers are suggested to be related to Ci and/or Ci complex defects. The EB-centers anneal out at about 700 oC.In paper 7, the DLTS peak EH5, which is observed after low- and high-energy electron irradiation is presented. The peak is associated with a bistable defect, labeled F-center. Configuration A exists unoccupied and occupied by an electron, whereas configuration B is only stable when filled by an electron. Reconfiguration temperatures for both configurations were determined and the reconfiguration energies were calculated from the transition kinetics. The reconfiguration B→A can also be achieved by minority charge carrier injection. The F-center is likely a carbon related defect, since it is already present after low-energy irradiation.
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