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Microstructure evolution and development of annealed Ni/Au contacts to GaN nanowires



Andrew M. Herrero, Paul T. Blanchard, Aric W. Sanders, Matthew D. Brubaker, Norman A. Sanford, Alexana Roshko, Kristine A. Bertness


The development of Ni/Au contacts to Mg-doped GaN nanowires (NWs) is examined. Current-voltage (I-V) measurements of these Mg-doped nanowire devices frequently exhibit a strong degradation after annealing in N2/O2. This degradation originates from the poor wetting behavior of Ni and Au on SiO2 and the excessive void formation that occurs at the metal/NW and metal/oxide interfaces. The void formation can cause cracking and delamination of the metal film as well as reduce the contact area at the metal/NW interface, which increases the resistance. The morphology and composition of the annealed Ni/Au contacts on SiO2 and the p-GaN films was investigated using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS), and x-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements. Adhesion experiments were performed in order to determine the degree of adhesion of the Ni/Au films to the SiO2 as well as observe and analyze the morphology of the film’s underside using SEM. Device degradation from annealing was prevented through the use of a specific adhesion layer of Ti/Al/Ni deposited prior to the nanowire dispersal and Ni/Au deposition. I-V of NW devices fabricated using this adhesion layer showed a decrease in resistance after annealing where all others showed an increase in resistance. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) on a cross-section of a NW with Ni/Au contacts and a Ti/Al/Ni adhesion layer showed a lack of void formation at the contact/NW interface. Results of the XRD and TEM analysis of the NW contact structure using a Ti/Al/Ni adhesion layer suggests that Al alloying with the Ni/Au contact increases the adhesion and stability of the metal film as well as prevents excessive void formation at the contact/NW interface.


contacts, GaN, nanowire, Ni/Au


Herrero, A. , Blanchard, P. , Sanders, A. , Brubaker, M. , Sanford, N. , Roshko, A. and Bertness, K. (2012), Microstructure evolution and development of annealed Ni/Au contacts to GaN nanowires, Nanotechnology, [online], (Accessed July 23, 2024)


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Created August 21, 2012, Updated June 5, 2020