For the determination of specific contact resistance in semiconductor devices, it is usually assumed that the sheet resistance under the contact is identical to that between the contacts. This generally does not hold for contacts to AlGaN/GaN structures, where an effective doping under the contact is thought to come from reactions between the contact metals and the AlGaN/GaN. As a consequence, conventional extraction of the specific contact resistance and transfer length leads to erroneous results. In this Letter, the sheet resistance under gold-free Ti/Al-based Ohmic contacts to AlGaN/GaN heterostructures on Si substrates has been investigated by means of electrical measurements, transmission electron microscopy, and technology computer-aided design simulations. It was found to be significantly lower than that outside of the contact area; temperature-dependent electrical characterization showed that it exhibits semiconductor-like behavior. The increase in conduction is attributed to n-type activity of nitrogen vacancies in the AlGaN. They are thought to form during rapid thermal annealing of the metal stack when Ti extracts nitrogen from the underlying semiconductor. The high n-type doping in the region between the metal and the 2-dimensional electron gas pulls the conduction band towards the Fermi level and enhances horizontal electron transport in the AlGaN. Using this improved understanding of the properties of the material underneath the contact, accurate values of transfer length and specific contact resistance have been extracted.
Hajlasz, M., Donkers, J. J. T. M., Sque, S. J., Heil, S. B. S., Gravesteijn, D. J., Rietveld, F. J. R., & Schmitz, J. (2014). Sheet resistance under Ohmic contacts to AlGaN/GaN heterostructures. Applied physics letters, 104, 242109. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4884416