Synthesis of Zn2NbN3 Ternary Nitride Semiconductor with Wurtzite-Derived Crystal Structure

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Abstract

Binary III-N nitride semiconductors with wurtzite crystal structure such as GaN and AlN have been long used in many practical applications ranging from optoelectronics to telecommunication. The structurally related ZnGeN2 or ZnSnN2 derived from the parent binary compounds by cation mutation (elemental substitution) have recently attracted attention, but such ternary nitride materials are mostly limited to II-IV-N2 compositions. This paper demonstrates synthesis and characterization of zinc niobium nitride (Zn2NbN3) - a previously unreported II2-V-N3 ternary nitride semiconductor. The Zn2NbN3 thin films are synthesized using a one-step adsorption-controlled growth that locks in the targeted stoichiometry, and a two-step deposition/annealing method that suppresses the loss of Zn and N. Measurements indicate that this sputtered Zn2NbN3 crystalizes in cation-disordered wurtzite-derived structure, in contrast to chemically related rocksalt-derived Mg2NbN3 compound, also synthesized here for comparison using the two-step method. The estimated wurtzite lattice parameter ratio of Zn2NbN3 is 1.55, and the optical absorption onset is at 2.1 eV. Both of these values are lower compared to published Zn2NbN3 computational values of c/a = 1.62 and E g = 3.5-3.6 eV. Additional theoretical calculations indicate that this difference is due to cation disorder in experimental samples, suggesting a way to tune the structural parameters and the resulting properties of heterovalent ternary nitride materials. Overall, this work expands the wurtzite family of nitride semiconductors to include Zn2NbN3, and suggests that related II2-V-N3 and other ternary nitrides should be possible to synthesize.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number354003
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Volume33
Issue number35
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 IOP Publishing Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-78771

Keywords

  • sputtering
  • ternary semiconductor
  • wurtzite
  • zinc niobium nitride

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