Thermal and Plasma Processing of Orthorhombic Gallium Oxide Films for Optoelectronic Applications

  • Yara S. Banda

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Gallium oxide (Ga2O3) has been the subject of extensive research activity due to its ultrawide bandgap and large breakdown field, which make it promising for next-generation applications in deep ultraviolet detection and power electronics. β-Ga2O3 is the most thermally stable and well-studied polymorph of Ga2O3. However, during the past decade, the metastable orthorhombic κ-Ga2O3 has emerged as an equally impressive candidate material owing to its high crystal symmetry and ferroelectric and spontaneous polarization properties. Several studies have reported the growth and characterization of κ-Ga2O3 films using different epitaxial growth methods. However, the existing literature still lacks reports on the processing of this material for future device applications. Therefore, in this thesis, we investigate the effects of high-temperature treatment and plasma exposure on the structural and optical properties of mist chemical vapor deposition (mist-CVD)-grown κ-Ga2O3 films. Using high-temperature X-ray diffraction (HT-XRD), we show that the films remain phase-pure up to an annealing temperature of 800 ˚C, after which β-phase peaks start to appear and eventually show a complete transition to β-Ga2O3 at 875 ˚C. Additionally, we show using detailed high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) and XRD analyses that annealing at 700 ˚C in ambient air is effective in improving the crystal quality of the κ-Ga2O3 layer by relieving in-plane strains and epitaxial stacking faults. Moreover, since dry etching is needed for the anisotropic patterning of materials for device applications, it is necessary to investigate the effects of plasma exposure on the near-surface properties of the material in order to keep its damage to a minimum. Therefore, we studied the impacts of plasma exposure during dry etching on the chemical structure, crystallinity, and optical properties of κ-Ga2O3 by using a variety of characterization methods. We observed how varying the etching parameters using BCl3/Ar can affect the near-surface properties of the material, which play a key role in modifying the performance of future devices. Specifically, we found that both RIE/ICP power and BCl3/Ar ratio can influence the surface stoichiometry and the concentration of native defect density, which affect the material’s structural and optical properties. Additionally, we reported for the first time on κ-Ga2O3 ICP-RIE process optimization using a BCl3/Ar gas mixture. By tuning the process parameters, the optimized recipe had a high etch rate of 130 nm/min, showed a surface roughness reduction of 56%, and produced vertical sidewall profiles for ridge device structures.
Date of AwardSep 2023
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorBoon Ooi (Supervisor)


  • Ga2O3
  • mist-CVD
  • etching
  • annealing
  • plasma-induced damage

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