The influence of AlN buffer layer on the growth of self-assembled GaN nanocolumns on graphene
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionScientific Reports. 2020, 10 (853), 1-12. 10.1038/s41598-019-55424-z
GaN nanocolumns were synthesized on single-layer graphene via radio-frequency plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy, using a thin migration-enhanced epitaxy (MEE) AlN buffer layer as nucleation sites. Due to the weak nucleation on graphene, instead of an AlN thin-film we observe two distinguished AlN formations which affect the subsequent GaN nanocolumn growth: (i) AlN islands and (ii) AlN nanostructures grown along line defects (grain boundaries or wrinkles) of graphene. Structure (i) leads to the formation of vertical GaN nanocolumns regardless of the number of AlN MEE cycles, whereas (ii) can result in random orientation of the nanocolumns depending on the AlN morphology. Additionally, there is a limited amount of direct GaN nucleation on graphene, which induces non-vertical GaN nanocolumn growth. The GaN nanocolumn samples were characterized by means of scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, high-resolution X-ray diffraction, room temperature micro-photoluminescence, and micro-Raman measurements. Surprisingly, the graphene with AlN buffer layer formed using less MEE cycles, thus resulting in lower AlN coverage, has a lower level of nitrogen plasma damage. The AlN buffer layer with lowest AlN coverage also provides the best result with respect to high-quality and vertically-aligned GaN nanocolumns.