Controlled Exfoliation of (100) GaAs-Based Devices by Spalling Fracture

John Simon, Kevin Schulte, Myles Steiner, David Young, Aaron Ptak, Cassi Sweet, Nikhil Jain, Corinne Packard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus Citations


The importance of exfoliation techniques increases as the semiconductor industry progresses toward thinner devices as a way to reduce material costs and improve performance. The controlled spalling technique is a recently developed substrate removal process that utilizes the physics of fracture to create wafer cleavage parallel to the surface at a precise depth. In this letter, we apply principles of linear elastic fracture mechanics to predict the process conditions needed to exfoliate (100) GaAs of a desired thickness. Spalling can be initiated in a controllable manner, by depositing a stressor film of a residual stress value just below the threshold value to induce a spontaneous spall. Experimental data show process window requirements to controllably spall (100) GaAs. Additionally, experimental spall depth in (100) GaAs compares well to spalling mechanics predictions when the effects of wafer thickness and modulus are considered. To test spalled material quality, III-V single junction photovoltaic devices are lifted off of a (100)-GaAs substrate by spalling methods and electrical characteristics are recorded. No degradation is observed in the spalled device, illustrating the potential of this method to rapidly produce thin, high quality devices.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number011906
Number of pages4
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 4 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 AIP Publishing LLC.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5J00-65379


  • gallium arsenide
  • photovoltaics (PV)


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