Role of inclined threading dislocations in stress relaxation in mismatched layers
(0001)-oriented epitaxial wurtzite III-nitride layers grown on mismatched substrates have no resolved shear stress on the natural basal and prismatic slip planes; however, strained Ill-nitride layers may gradually relax. We report on the stress relaxation of Al0.49Ga0.51N layers grown on nominally relaxed Al0.62Ga0.38N buffer layers on sapphire. The reduction in elastic strain of the Al0.49Ga0.51N was enhanced by Si doping which caused an increased surface roughness. Despite the Si doping, the films always sustained step-flow growth. The extent of relaxation of the Al0.49Ga0.51N layer was determined by on-axis omega-2 theta scans of (0001) peaks and reciprocal space maps of inclined (off-axis) peaks. Cross-section and plan-view transmission electron microscopy studies showed that the threading dislocations in the Al(0.49)Gao(0.5)N layer inclined from the  direction towards (1 (1) over bar 00) directions by similar to 15-25 degrees, perpendicular to their Burgers vector (1/3 ) These inclined threading dislocations have a misfit dislocation component and thus provide stress relief. The contribution of the dislocation inclination to the degree of relaxation has been formulated and the energy release has been determined for dislocation inclination in mismatched stressed layers. (c) 2005 American Institute of Physics.