Applications of TEM imaging, analysis and electron holography to III-nitride HEMT devices

David Smith, David A. Cullen, Lin Zhou, Martha McCartney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


This paper reviews some of our recent studies of III-nitride high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) devices using advanced electron microscopy methods. Sample preparation protocols have been developed that can routinely provide thin, electron-transparent specimen regions of uniform thickness extending across entire HEMT devices. The use of focused-ion-beam (FIB) thinning facilitated access to specific device regions, although structural damage and imaging artifacts can result unless suitable precautions are taken during milling to minimize ion-beam damage. The extent of gallium-ion sidewall implantation during FIB milling, and surface damage caused by deposition of Pt protective layers, have been assessed. As-processed device structures have been examined by conventional diffraction contrast imaging as well as high-resolution phase contrast imaging, while nanospectroscopy and nanoscale elemental mapping have been used to measure local variations in chemical composition. Annealing of Ti/Al/Ni/Au ohmic contacts for AlInN/AlN/GaN devices lead to the formation of TiN contact inclusions that are invariably located at mixed-type threading dislocations originating from the underlying GaN layers. Some preliminary observations of device structures after extended periods of operation and after device failure have also been made. The technique of off-axis electron holography has been used to quantify two-dimensional electrostatic fields within cross-sectioned devices with nanometer-scale resolution. Polarization fields of 6.9 MV/cm and a two-dimensional electron gas of ∼2.1 × 10 13/cm2 have been measured for an AlInN/AlN/GaN heterostructure. Methods suitable for in situ biasing of HEMT samples during electron holography observations have also been explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1514-1519
Number of pages6
JournalMicroelectronics Reliability
Issue number9-11
StatePublished - Sep 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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