Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Microelectronics-Photonics (MS)

Degree Level





Morgan Ware

Committee Member

Zhong Chen

Second Committee Member

Cynthia Sides

Third Committee Member

Rick Wise


Epitaxy, GaN, GaN on Sapphire, HVPE substrates, morphology


The aim of this research is to investigate and characterize the quality of commercially obtained gallium nitride (GaN) on sapphire substrates that have been grown using hydride vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE). GaN substrates are the best choice for optoelectronic applications because of their physical and electrical properties. Even though HVPE GaN substrates are available at low-cost and create the opportunities for growth and production, these substrates suffer from large macro-scale defects on the surface of the substrate.

In this research, four GaN on sapphire substrates were investigated in order to characterize the surface defects and, subsequently, understand their influence on homoepitaxial GaN growth. Two substrates were unintentionally doped (UID) GaN on sapphire, and the other two were semi-insulating (SI) GaN on sapphire which were doped with iron (Fe) in order to compensate the background doping inherent in GaN. Several characterization techniques were performed. Atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and optical microscopy were performed to characterize the surface morphology. X-ray diffraction, cathodoluminescence, transmission measurements, and optical transmission electron microscopy were applied to study the bulk structural and optical properties.

The investigation of the surface of GaN substrates exposed various defects that are associated with defects in the structure such as dislocations, as well as vacancies and point defects. The UID GaN substrates suffered from hexagonal V-shape pits with pits densities of approximately 107 and 108 cm-2, whereas, the SI GaN substrates exhibited much larger macro-scale pits with areal densities of about 102 cm-2. X-ray diffraction results were deconvoluted in order to characterize the screw and mixed (edge and screw) dislocation densities for the studied substrates. The UID substrates exhibited screw dislocation densities of 107 and 108 cm-2 and mixed dislocation densities of 109 and 1010 cm-2. The SI substrates, however, exhibit generally lower densities of dislocations of 109 and 108 cm-2 for screw and mixed, respectively. Cathodoluminescence measurements demonstrated interesting results for the UID and SI substrates with energies of 4 and 3.5 eV, respectively. The transmission measurements for the UID substrates showed that the bandgap energy was 3.39 eV.