Tailoring Growth Interfaces of Virtual Substrates for Power Electronics

Research output: NRELPresentation


Power electronics materials are poised to play a critical role in fulfilling next generation energy needs, with up to 90% of future energy demand predicted to flow through power electronics at some point.[1] Among a number of candidate materials, AlxGa1-xN is the strongest, having bipolar dopability, thermal and chemical stability, an ultra-wide bandgap, and demonstrated experimental feasibility. However, AlGaN growth is limited by a lack of lattice-matched substrates, ultimately stunting material quality at higher thicknesses needed for power electronics applications. Further, high power applications increasingly call for fully vertical device structures, necessitating a conductive substrate. [1] Recently our group identified the (111) plane of TaC as a conductive surface lattice-matched to Al0.55Ga0.45N, taking inspiration from prior work of AlN and GaN binaries on carbide and boride substrates. [2,3,4] In this talk we demonstrate the growth of (111)-oriented TaC by RF sputtering. We investigate the interface of TaC with sapphire and SiC substrates and identify means to suppress competing Ta2C nucleation in order to stabilize (111)-oriented TaC. Potential stacking sequences are identified with respect to crystal structure and observed twinning in the TaC films. We next assess structural changes and film recrystallization that results from face-to-face annealing of TaC thin films at high temperatures above 1500 degrees Celsius. Changes to grain structure and domain size are assessed by x-ray diffraction and surface morphology is explored using atomic force microscopy. Figure 1 shows significant improvements to in- and out-of-plane strain following annealing along with the formation of terraced step edges at the film surface. Strain as a function of material composition and thickness is considered, as this may play a major role in future nucleation of AlGaN layers.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages3
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the 48th Conference on the Physics and Chemistry of Surfaces and Interfaces (PCSI-48), 15-19 January 2023, Redondo Beach, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5K00-84072


  • crystal structure
  • growth
  • power electronics
  • substrates


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