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Growth and Characterization of Silicon Carbide Thin Films and Nanowires

  • Author(s): Luna, Lunet Estefany
  • Advisor(s): Maboudian, Roya
  • et al.

Silicon carbide (SiC) based electronics and sensors hold promise for pushing past the limits of current technology to achieve small, durable devices that can function in high-temperature, high-voltage, corrosive, and biological environments. SiC is an ideal material for such conditions due to its high mechanical strength, excellent chemical stability, and its biocompatibility. Consequently, SiC thin films and nanowires have attracted interest in applications such as micro- and nano-electromechanical systems, biological sensors, field emission cathodes, and energy storage devices.

In terms of high-temperature microdevices, maintaining low-resistance electrical contact between metal and SiC remains a challenge. Although SiC itself maintains structural and electrical stability at high temperatures, the metallization schemes on SiC can suffer from silicide formation and oxidation when exposed to air. The second chapter presents efforts to develop stable metallization schemes to SiC. A stack consisting of Ni-induced solid-state graphitization of SiC and an atomic layer deposited layer of alumina is shown to yield low contact resistivity of Pt/Ti to polycrystalline n-type 3C-SiC films that is stable in air at 450 ºC for 500 hours.

The subsequent chapters focus on the growth and structural characterization of SiC nanowires. In addition to its structural stability in harsh-environments, there is interest in controlling SiC crystal structure or polytype formation. Over 200 different polytypes have been reported for SiC, with the most common being 3C, 4H, and 2H. In terms of SiC nanowire growth, the 3C or cubic phase is the most prevalent. However, as the stacking fault energy for SiC is on the order of a few meV, it is common to have a high density of stacking faults within a given SiC crystal structure. Thus, to enable reliable performance of SiC nanowires, a growth method that can promote a specific polytype or reduce stacking faults is of importance. Ni-catalyzed chemical vapor deposition method is employed for the growth of the nanowires. The effects of substrate structure and quality as well as the various growth parameters such as temperature, pressure, and post-deposition annealing are investigated. Most significant has been the growth and characterization of vertically aligned hexagonal phase (or 4H-like) SiC nanowires grown on commercially available 4H-SiC (0001).

The studies presented in this thesis tackle issues in SiC metallization and nanowire growth in efforts to expand the versatility of SiC as a material platform for novel devices.

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