Coalescence of GaP on V-Groove Si

Theresa Saenz, John Mangum, Olivia Schneble, Anica Neumann, Bill McMahon, Ryan France, Jeramy Zimmerman, Emily Warren

Research output: NRELPresentation


In recent years, better understanding and control over the formation of crystalline defects during the direct epitaxy of III-V semiconductors on Si substrates via metal organic vapor phase epitaxy (MOVPE) has enabled large gains in III-V-on-Si solar cell efficiency, pointing to pathway to lower-cost, high-performance III-V solar cells. However, such results have only been achieved on costly chemo-mechanically-polished (CMP) Si wafers. The use of V-groove nanopatterned Si substrates has demonstrated similarly high-crystalline-quality III-V-on-Si epitaxy, but also can be combined with lower-cost polishing techniques. Although they offer a potential cost advantage, growth on V-groove substrates adds challenges not present for epitaxy on planar wafers (the III-V material must be coalesced into a thin film after an initial nucleation stage). MOVPE growth conditions that promote highly facet-selective lateral growth needed for coalescence are generally actively avoided for conventional thin fim growth, so growth conditions need to be re-developed for V-groove-based epitaxy. Additionally, coalescence add complexity to the dislocation dynamics related to lattice relaxation, so strategies used to keep threading dislocation density (TDD) low on planar substrates need to be re-tuned for V-grooves. We have studied the morphological evolution and dislocation dynamics of GaP grown on V-groove Si by MOVPE. Growth conditions of V/III=5,000 and Tg=800 degrees C were uniquely found to produce extremely smooth coalesced thin films, with an RMS roughness of 0.2 nm measured by AFM. Additionally, at this growth condition, we identified two regimes of growth determined by the width of the SiNx cap (a remnant of the nanopatterning process) at the top of the V-grooves. For narrow caps, the GaP coalesces into a thin film, and for wide caps, the GaP evolves into {1 1 1}-faceted diamonds that do not coalesce. We suggest the influence of Si from the sidewalls of the V-grooves on the surface reconstruction of the GaP as the mechanism for this effect, with reflection difference spectroscopy (RDS) and Si doping experiments supporting this theory. In addition to morphology, the dislocation dynamics of the system were studied with electron channeling contrast imaging (ECCI) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The TDD of the coalesced GaP films was found to be 5 x 10^7 cm^-2 after coalescence via ECCI, a level still too high for high-quality solar cells. However, misfit dislocations crossing multiple grooves greater than 20 micrometers long were observed in ECCI, suggesting that the V-grooves do not block dislocation glide. TEM prior to and after coalescence was used to distinguish between dislocation creation driven by growth conditions and coalescence. Finally, strategies to reduce the dislocation density to levels acceptable for solar cells will be discussed.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages24
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the 7th European Conference on Crystal Growth, 25-27 July 2022, Paris, France

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5900-82643


  • GaP
  • v-groove


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