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Ultrahigh-quality silicon carbide single crystals


Silicon carbide (SiC) has a range of useful physical, mechanical and electronic properties that make it a promising material for next-generation electronic devices1,2. Careful consideration of the thermal conditions3,4,5,6 in which SiC {0001} is grown has resulted in improvements in crystal diameter and quality: the quantity of macroscopic defects such as hollow core dislocations (micropipes)7,8,9, inclusions, small-angle boundaries and long-range lattice warp has been reduced10,11. But some macroscopic defects (about 1–10 cm-2) and a large density of elementary dislocations ( 104 cm-2), such as edge, basal plane and screw dislocations, remain within the crystal, and have so far prevented the realization of high-efficiency, reliable electronic devices in SiC (refs 12–16). Here we report a method, inspired by the dislocation structure of SiC grown perpendicular to the c-axis (a-face growth)17, to reduce the number of dislocations in SiC single crystals by two to three orders of magnitude, rendering them virtually dislocation-free. These substrates will promote the development of high-power SiC devices and reduce energy losses of the resulting electrical systems.

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Figure 1: Schematic illustrations of ‘repeated a-face’ (RAF) growth process.
Figure 2: Etch pit density (EPD) decay curves versus repeat count of a-face growth, and results of current stress testing.
Figure 3: Synchrotron monochromatic beam X-ray topographies.

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We thank Y. Hirose for the SMBXT experiment, T. Saito for discussions, and N. Sugiyama, M. Matsui and H. Kuno for other experimental support. The SMBXT experiments were performed at the SPring-8 with the approval of the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute (JASRI).Authors' contributions D.N. conceived the idea and the growth experiment, and together with I.G., A.O. and H.K. carried it out; D.N., S.Y. and T.I. executed the quality analysis; and D.N., S.O. and K.T. co-wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Kazumasa Takatori.

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Toyota CRDL and Denso Corp. have applied for patents related to the subject of this Letter. Commercialization of the patents may result in financial benefits to the authors.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Figure 1

X-ray incident angle (ω) scan rocking curves of the 0004 diffraction peak spectrum obtained from 4H-SiC {0001} substrate sliced from a-face {11̄00} growth ingot using c-face growth seed crystal. (PDF 197 kb)

Supplementary Figure 2

X-ray topography obtained from {0001} substrate sliced from the a-face {11̄00} growth crystal. (PDF 826 kb)

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Nakamura, D., Gunjishima, I., Yamaguchi, S. et al. Ultrahigh-quality silicon carbide single crystals. Nature 430, 1009–1012 (2004).

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