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TEMPERATURE BEHAVIOR OF Pt/Au OHMIC CONTACTS TO

p-GaN
D. J. King, L. Zhang, J. C. Ramer, S. D. Hersee, L. F. Lester
University of New Mexico, Center for High Technology Materials, Albuquerque, NM

ABSTRACT
Ohmic contacts to Mg-doped p-GaN grown by MOCVD [1] are studied using a circular
transmission line model (TLM) to avoid the need for isolation. For samples which use a p-dopant
activation anneal before metallization, no appreciable difference in the specific contact resistance,
r,, as a function of different capping options is observed. However, a lower r, is obtained when
no pre-metallization anneal is employed, and the post-metallization anneal simultaneously activates
the p-dopant and anneals the contact. This trend is shown for Pt/Au, Pt, Pd/Pt/Au, and Ni/Au
contacts to p-GaN. The r 's for these metal contacts are in the range of 1.4-7.6 x 10.- ohm-cm 2 at
room temperature at a bias of 1OmA. No particular metallization formula clearly yields a
consistently superior contact. Instead, the temperature of the contact has the strongest influence.
Detailed studies of the electrical properties of the Pt/Au contacts reveal that the I-V linearity
improves significantly with increasing temperature. At room temperature, a slightly rectified I-V
characteristic curve is obtained, while at 200'C and above, the I-V curve is linear. For all the p-
GaN samples, it is also found that the sheet resistance decreases by an order of magnitude with
increasing temperature from 25'C to 350'C. The specific contact resistance is also found to
decrease by nearly an order of magnitude for a temperature increase of the same range. A
minimum r, of 4.2 x 10-4 ohm-cm 2 was obtained at a temperature of 350'C for a Pt/Au contact.
This result is the lowest reported r, for ohmic contacts to p-GaN.

INTRODUCTION
The IHI-V nitride semiconductors are of current interest in making blue/UV light emitting diodes
(LEDs), laser diodes (LDs) and for high-temperature electronic devices because of its large direct
bandgap energy (3.39 eV at room temperature). With the realization of p-GaN doped with Mg
followed by rapid thermal annealing [2], high brightness blue/green LEDs have been fabricated on
InGaN/GaN quantum well structure [3], and recently, pulsed and CW blue LDs have been
demonstrated [4]. However, the performance of these devices such as operating voltage and
quantum efficiency are restricted by the high resistance of ohmic contacts to p-GaN. Therefore,
the development of low resistance ohmic contacts to p-GaN is essential for making high
performance junction devices on GaN. In this work, the rc's of various metal contacts to MOCVD-
grown Mg-doped p-GaN are analyzed at room temperature as a function of different p-dopant
activation anneal techniques. It is observed that activating Mg (drive out hydrogen) after the
metallization step is preferable in order to avoid compensating the surface due to nitrogen
desorption. Since the room temperature r, is not particularly sensitive to the type of metallization,
Pt/Au is chosen primarily for its thermal stability to study the change in r, with temperature.

CIRCULAR TLM MODEL


The r, is measured using a circular transmission line model (TLM). The circular contact
design, shown in Fig. 1, avoids the need for isolation of the contact structures by implantation or
etching. This method for patterning the metal contacts is particularly useful for GaN which,
because of its chemical inertness, requires plasma etching to achieve significant etch rates [5,6,7].
For the circular TLM pattern, the resistance, R, between contacts is,

R R=-21r•
=Rh FIn r2 -2 d + LT (r2- d + r.I , (1)

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Mat. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc. Vol. 468 0 1997 Materials Research Society
where R~h is the sheet resistance of the material, r2 is the radius of the outer circular contact, d is the
gap spacing (r2 - r,), and LT is the transfer length. When the ring radius to gap ratio is large, the
ring contact geometry reduces to the standard TLM structure,

R = 2R, + w
S , (2)
where,
Rc AsL T 2
R -- R w and rc = Rsh Lr (3)
W is the circumference of the outer ring, and rc is the specific contact resistance. For the ring radius
of 200 gm and gaps from 5 to 45 gm used in this work, small correction factors are necessary to
compensate for the difference between the standard TLM and ring layouts to obtain a linear fit to
the data. The calculated correction factors are given in Table 1 for a constant outer radius of 200
gm and a varying gap distance. Without these correction factors, the specific contact resistance, r•,
would be underestimated [8].

r _V r Table I: Correction factors.


ez:ý 1(r, = 200mm)

Ga~F' ~Correc-io F.cos


5 1.013
10 1.026
15 1.040
25 1.070
35 1.103
45 1.139
Figure 1: Circular TLM contact pattern

ROOM TEMPERATURE RESULTS


Metal layers of Ni/Au, Pd/Pt/Au, Pt and Pt/Au were deposited on MOCVD grown p-GaN by e-
beam evaporation below 2x10 6 Torr. Of Ni, Pd, and Pt, it is expected that Pt will most easily form
an ohmic contact due to its large metal work function. All samples are taken from the same 2" Mg-
doped GaN wafer (308) whose hole concentration and mobility at room temperature are 5-6x10•6
cm 3 and 7 cm 2/V-s, respectively. Previous studies of ohmic contacts to n-GaN have shown that a
surface treatment of NH 4OH:DI immediately prior to metallization is necessary to prevent an
interfacial oxide layer from forming [9]. Therefore all samples were given this surface treatment
immediately before being placed in the metallization chamber. Also, all samples were given a
dopant activation anneal by RTA to drive out compensating hydrogen which is incorporated into
the material during growth [10]. Pd, Pt, and Ni were chosen as contact metals because of their
ability to extract hydrogen [11]. As a previous study of ohmic contacts to n-GaN shows, this high
temperature anneal can cause nitrogen to desorb from the surface of the GaN [9]. The resulting
nitrogen vacancies can cause dopant compensation at the surface. To inhibit nitrogen desorption
during the activation anneal, a second piece of GaN that provides an overpressure of nitrogen is
used to cap the study sample. In order to determine the effect of the p-dopant activation anneal on
the contact characteristics, each sample was given one of the following pre-metallization anneal
treatments:
a. No pre-metallization anneal.
b. A 20 minute 700'C rapid thermal anneal (RTA) with the wafer uncapped.
c. A 20 minute 700'C rapid thermal anneal (RTA) with the wafer capped with undoped GaN.

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d. A 20 minute 700'C rapid thermal anneal (RTA) with the wafer capped with p-doped GaN.
(This wafer will provide an overpressure of Mg.)

All samples were also given a second, post-metallization alloying anneal for 10 minutes at 750'C.
For the samples that were not pre-metallization annealed, the 750'C post-metallization heat
treatment performed on all wafers simultaneously activated the dopant and annealed the metal. It
was found that the hydrogen had no difficulty in escaping through any of the metallizations at
750 0C.
The differential resistance, R, between contacts as a function of operating current and gap
spacing is measured using an HP 4145A Semiconductor Parameter Analyzer. Rh and r. are
calculated from the R vs. d curve using Eqn.(2) & (3) for a fixed operating current level. Although
annealing the contacts at 750'C improves their ohmic behavior, all exhibit a slight bend in their
room-temperature I-V characteristic near the origin, indicating a Schottky-type barrier. It is
therefore necessary to define the current at which r, is measured. Table II compares the r, of metal
contacts to GaN that use the different pre-metallization anneal treatments. Because these contacts
are not truly ohmic, r, was measured at 1 and 10 mA. At 10 mA, which is a typical operating
current for a GaN LED there is no significant difference in the r, of samples that are pre-
metallization-annealed with the different capping options. However, a lower r, is obtained for
samples that are annealed only after metallization. Presumably, the good contact between the GaN
and the metal prevents nitrogen desorption and the resultant compensation at the surface of GaN.
For the samples which are activated before metallization, the GaN samples are probably not in
good contact with the capping wafer, therefore the dissociation of GaN at the surface occurs for all
these cases. Note that no particular metallization formula is superior in r, to another.
Table II: Comparison of specific contact resistance for different pre-anneal treatments. The specific
contact resistances were measured at a current of 10 mA and 1 mA. All samples were given a
750'C post-metallization anneal for 10 minutes.

308G Pt I No 1.4x10"O 3.4x10o•


308F Pt Capped with Undoped 7.6x10' 3.6x10'
308J J Ni/Au No 3.3x0-' 2.5 x10'
308B [_Ni/Au Capped with Undoped 5.5 x10' 1.2x1T0
308E I Pd/Pt/Au I No 2.4x10"• 1.7x10'
308D Pd/Pt/Au Capped with Undoped 7.4x 10' l'0xl0-

When r. is measured at 1mA there is no evident trend in the data. At 1 mA bias, it is believed
that the current is limited by thermionic emission which is not dependent on the resistivity of the
sample, and, therefore, the N2 desorption effect is not observed. It is also believed that, due to a
graded metal-semiconductor interface, the barrier height has a voltage dependence. Thus, at 10
mA, the barrier height is significantly reduced and does not inhibit current flow so that now the
resistivity of the sample is the more dominant factor in determining the contact resistance.
Therefore, it is possible to observe the effect of N 2 desorption which causes a change in the
resistivity of the sample. Fig. (2) shows a diagram of the barrier height decreasing with increasing
applied bias for a graded metal-semiconductor interface. It is also interesting to note that sample
308A has a much lower r, and experiences only a minor change in going from 1 mA to 10 mA.
This leads us to believe that 308A has a much smaller barrier height and a more abrupt junction,
therefore being less voltage dependent.

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1 0 mA

N, 5mA
Metal Contact

'Obp 1rmA

Figure 2: For a graded metal-semiconductor interface, the barrier height decreases as bias is applied.

HIGH TEMPERATURE RESULTS


Studies of the electrical properties of the Pt/Au contacts after fabrication reveal that the I-V
linearity improves significantly at high temperature. Fig. 3 shows the I-V curves and their slopes,
i.e. the differential resistances, measured at different temperatures. At room temperature, the I-V
curve shows a bend near the origin and R decreases with increasing current. As temperature
increases, the I-V linearity improves and R decreases significantly. At temperatures above 200'C,
the I-V curve exhibits ideal ohmic behavior and the differential resistance is constant with current.
It is believed that the current is governed by thermionic emission and the improvement in I-V
linearity at high temperature is attributed to the carriers increase in thermal energy which enables
them to overcome the barrier.

5- - 100C 1 1 1 1..20C

25 0C-o 0.0

0 2 4 6 8 0 2 4 6 8

Current (mA) current (mA)


(a) (b)
Figure 3: (a) I-V curves of the contact measured at different temperatures on sample 308A. (b) The differential
resistances, RedV/dI, as functiuns of current and temperature.

In order to gain a better understanding of this temperature dependence, the sheet resistance and
rcare measured for a range of temperatures between 25°C and 350°C. This is accomplished by
placing the samples on a heated stage and measuring the temperature with a thermocouple. Table
IV shows that for all samples the sheet resistance decreases significantly with increasing
temperature. This is attributed to an increased hole concentration due to the relatively large
acceptor ionization energy. Fig. (4a) shows the sheet resistance of sample 308A decreasing by an
order of magnitude from 53,000 ohm/square at 25CC to 4,455 ohm/square at 350°C. For all the
wafer 308 samples, the sheet resistance decreased by an order of magnitude.
As shown in0 Table III, the specific contact resistances also decrease by nearly an order of
magnitude from 25 C to 350°C when measurements are taken at lmA. Again this is attributed to
the carries ability to overcome the barrier at high temperatures. If the measurements are taken at

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lOmA, the specific contact resistance of three samples (308C, 3081, 308K) show a very small
dependence on temperature indicating that at 10 mA the barrier was almost completely reduced.
Also, as Table IV shows, the current has a minimal dependence on hole concentration due to the
fact that a large decrease in sheet resistance only results in a slight change in specific contact
resistance. When measurements are taken at 10 mA for sample 308A, a large decrease in the
specific contact resistance is seen with the increasing temperature as shown in Fig. (4b). This
would indicate that at 25°C and 10 mA the barrier was not significantly reduced therefore requiring
increased thermal energy for the carriers to overcome the barrier. At 350'C, a specific contact
resistance of 4.2x10-4 ohm-cm2 was measured for sample 308A. This is the lowest reported rc for
ohmic contacts to p-GaN. It is believed that the differences between sample 308A and the other
samples is thought to be an effect of wafer non-uniformity and/or processing.
I I I -
50
M0 50
'040
40 1;<
ax
30
30
cc:
-- 20
20
U) 10
(D)
U)2 10
I I I
0
0
100 200 300 100 200 300
Temperature( C)
0
Temperature( C)
(a) (b)
Figure 4: (a) Sheet resistance and (b) specific contact resistance as a function of temperature
for a Pt/Au contact on 308A. The measurement was taken at 10 mA. For all
Pt/Au samples the sheet resistance decreased by nearly an order of magnitude.

Table III: Comparison of the specific contact resistance measured at 25'C and 350'C for Pt/Au contacts.

308C 1.6x10 2 1.5xl0O3 1.6x10- 3


3081 1.Ox10"22 3.3x10- 33 1.8x10- 3
308K 1.8x10' 3.4x10" 2.Ox10-3

Table IV: Comparison of the sheet resistance measured at 25°C and 350'C for Pt/Au contacts.

308A 71900 53100 4500


308C 52800 41300 3800
3081 42200 26700 2900
308K 52200 35000 3400

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CONCLUSION
In conclusion, metal semiconductor ohmic contacts to p-GaN were studied. It was found that
for samples that were pre-metallization annealed, no appreciable difference in the specific contact
resistance is seen for different capping options. However, a lower r, is obtained when no pre-
metallization anneal is given and the post-metallization anneal simultaneously activates the p-dopant
and anneals the contact. For Pt/Au contacts, it is found that the I-V linearity improves significantly
with increasing temperature, and that at temperatures greater than 200'C, the I-V exhibits ideal
ohmic behavior. Finally, the sheet resistance and the specific contact resistance decrease
significantly with increasing temperature when measurements are taken at 1 mA. The sheet
resistance decrease is thought to be caused by an increased hole concentration, whereas the
decrease in specific contact resistance is attributed to more efficient thermionic emission across the
barrier. The lowest reported r. of 4.2x10-4 ohm-cm 2 was measured for a Pt/Au contact at 350'C.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This work was supported by the ARPA Optoelectronics Materials Center under grant #
MDA972-94-1-0003, NSF under a CAREER grant # ECS-9501785, and Sandia National
Laboratories. One of the authors (DJK) is supported by a National Defense Science and
Engineering Graduate Fellowship.

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