February 2000

Document Type


Degree Name



Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering


Oregon Graduate Institute of Science & Technology


Driven by the remarkable growth in the telecommunication market, the demand for more complex GaAs circuitry continued to increase in the last decade. As a result, the GaAs industry is faced with new challenges in its efforts to fabricate devices with smaller dimensions that would permit higher integration levels. One of the limiting factors is the ohmic contact metallurgy of the metal semiconductor field effect transistor (MESFET), which, during annealing, induces a high degree of lateral diffusion into the substrate. Because of its limited reaction with the substrate, the Pd-Ge contact seems to be the most promising candidate to be used in the next generation of MESFET's. The Pd-Ge system belongs to a new class of ohmic contacts to compound semiconductors, part of an alloying strategy developed only recently, which relies on solid phase epitaxy (SPE) and solid phase regrowth to "un-pin" the Fermi level at the surface of the compound semiconductor. However, implementing this alloy into an integrated process flow proved to be difficult due to our incomplete understanding of the microstructure evolution during annealing and its implications on the electrical properties of the contact. The microstructure evolution and the corresponding solid state reactions that take place during annealing of the Pd-Ge thin films on to GaAs were studied in connection with their effects on the electrical properties of the ohmic contact. The phase transformations sequence, transition temperatures and activation energies were determined by combining differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) for thermal analysis with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) for microstructure identification. In-situ TEM annealing experiments on the Pd/Ge/Pd/GaAs ohmic contact system have permitted real time determination of the evolution of contact microstructure. The kinetics of the solid state reactions, which occur during ohmic contact formation, were determined by measuring the grain growth rates associated with each phase from the videotape recordings. With the exception of the Pd-GaAs interactions, it was found that four phase transformations occur during annealing of the Pd:Ge thin films on top of GaAs. The microstructural information was correlated with specific ohmic contact resistivity measurements performed in accordance with the transmission line method (TLM) and these results demonstrated that the Ge SPE growth on top of GaAs renders the optimal electrical properties for the contact. By using the focused ion beam (FIB) method to produce microcantilever beams, the residual stress present in the thin film system was studied in connection with the microstructure. Although, the PdGe/epi-Ge/GaAs seemed to be the optimal microstructural configuration, the presence of PdGe at the interface with GaAs did not damage the contact resistivity significantly. These results made it difficult to establish a charge transport mechanism across the interface but they explained the wide processing window associated with this contact.





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