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Layered boron nitride as a release layer for mechanical transfer of GaN-based devices

Abstract

Nitride semiconductors are the materials of choice for a variety of device applications, notably optoelectronics1,2 and high-frequency/high-power electronics3. One important practical goal is to realize such devices on large, flexible and affordable substrates, on which direct growth of nitride semiconductors of sufficient quality is problematic. Several techniques—such as laser lift-off4,5—have been investigated to enable the transfer of nitride devices from one substrate to another, but existing methods still have some important disadvantages. Here we demonstrate that hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) can form a release layer that enables the mechanical transfer of gallium nitride (GaN)-based device structures onto foreign substrates. The h-BN layer serves two purposes: it acts as a buffer layer for the growth of high-quality GaN-based semiconductors, and provides a shear plane that makes it straightforward to release the resulting devices. We illustrate the potential versatility of this approach by using h-BN-buffered sapphire substrates to grow an AlGaN/GaN heterostructure with electron mobility of 1,100 cm2 V−1 s−1, an InGaN/GaN multiple-quantum-well structure, and a multiple-quantum-well light-emitting diode. These device structures, ranging in area from five millimetres square to two centimetres square, are then mechanically released from the sapphire substrates and successfully transferred onto other substrates.

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Figure 1: Schematic illustrations of the MQW materials design, release and transfer processes.
Figure 2: Flat single-crystal wurtzite GaN is grown on an AlN layer on the h-BN layer.
Figure 3: Structural and optical properties of an InGaN/GaN MQW structure before and after transfer.
Figure 4: Electroluminescence of transferred and conventional MQW LED at room temperature.
Figure 5: Electroluminescence of LED prototype at room temperature.

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Acknowledgements

We thank M. Oudah for help with AFM, X-ray diffraction and Raman measurements, T. Kitada for help with TEM observations, H. Ando for help with X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, H. Gotoh for help with photoluminescence using the InGaN-based laser, Y. Yamauchi for help with LED processing, Y. Tanaiyasu for discussions about LED characterization, and Y. Krockenberger for reading and technical support of the manuscript. We also thank H. Yamamoto and I. Yokohama for their encouragement throughout this study.

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Authors and Affiliations

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Contributions

Y.K. designed the experiments, grew the MQW and LED structures and characterized their structural and optical properties. K.K. fabricated the electrode, released and transferred the LED, and performed the current–voltage and electroluminescence measurements. T.A. also grew the MQW and LED structures. T.M. managed the whole experimental process. Y.K. and T.M. proposed this research and wrote the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yasuyuki Kobayashi.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Kobayashi, Y., Kumakura, K., Akasaka, T. et al. Layered boron nitride as a release layer for mechanical transfer of GaN-based devices. Nature 484, 223–227 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature10970

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