Epitaxial growth of nonpolar GaN films on r-plane sapphire substrates by pulsed laser deposition
Single-crystalline nonpolar GaN epitaxial films have been successfully grown on r-plane sapphire (Al2O3) substrates by pulsed laser deposition (PLD) with an in-plane epitaxial relationship of GaN[1-100]//Al2O3[11-20]. The properties of the ~500 nm-thick nonpolar GaN epitaxial films grown at temperatures ranging from 450 to 880 °C are studied in detail. It is revealed that the surface morphology, the crystalline quality, and the interfacial property of as-grown ~500 nm-thick nonpolar GaN epitaxial films are firstly improved and then decreased with the growth temperature changing from 450 to 880 °C. It shows an optimized result at the growth temperature of 850 °C, and the ~500 nm-thick nonpolar GaN epitaxial films grown at 850 °C show very smooth surface with a root-mean-square surface roughness of 5.5 nm and the best crystalline quality with the full-width at half-maximum values of X-ray rocking curves for GaN(11-20) and GaN(10-11) of 0.8° and 0.9°, respectively. Additionally, there is a 1.7 nm-thick interfacial layer existing between GaN epitaxial films and r-plane sapphire substrates. This work offers an effective approach for achieving single-crystalline nonpolar GaN epitaxial films for the fabrication of nonpolar GaN-based devices.