Computational Insights into Phase Equilibria Between Wide-Gap Semiconductors and Contact Materials

Cheng-Wei Lee, Andriy Zakutayev, Vladan Stevanovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus Citations


Novel wide-band-gap semiconductors are needed for next-generation power electronics, but there is a gap between a promising material and a functional device. Finding stable (metal) contacts is one of the major challenges that is currently dealt with mainly via trial and error. Herein, we computationally investigate the thermochemistry and phase coexistence at the junction between three wide-gap semiconductors, ..beta..-Ga2O3, GeO2, and GaN, and possible contact materials. The pool of possible contacts includes 47 elemental metals and a set of 4 common, n-type transparent conducting oxides (ZnO, TiO2, SnO2, and In2O3). We use first-principles thermodynamics to model the Gibbs free energies of chemical reactions as a function of gas pressure (pO2/pN2) and equilibrium temperature. We deduce whether a semiconductor/contact interface will be stable at relevant conditions or a chemical reaction between them is to be expected, possibly influencing the long-term reliability and performance of devices. We generally find that most elemental metals tend to oxidize or nitridize and form various interface oxide/nitride layers. Exceptions include select late- and post-transition metals and, in the case of GaN, also the alkali metals, which are predicted to exhibit stable coexistence, although in many cases at relatively low gas partial pressures. Similar is true for the transparent conducting oxides, for which, in most cases, we predict a preference toward forming ternary oxides when in contact with ..beta..-Ga2O3 and GeO2. The only exception is SnO2, which we find to form stable contacts with both oxides. Finally, we show how the same approach can be used to predict gas partial pressure vs temperature phase diagrams to help direct synthesis of ternary compounds. We believe these results provide a valuable guidance in selecting contact materials to wide-gap semiconductors and suitable growth conditions.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2383-2391
Number of pages9
JournalACS Applied Electronic Materials
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-88128


  • contact materials
  • interfacial chemical reactions
  • interfacial thermal stability
  • predicted phase diagram
  • wide-band-gap materials


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