Observation of novel defect structure in 2H-AlN grown on 6H-SiC(0001) substrates with 3-bilayer-height step-and-terrace structures



250 nm thick AlN layers without a nucleation layer were grown directly on 6H-SiC(0001) with 3-bilayer-height steps by rf-plasma-assisted molecular-beam epitaxy. The structure and morphology of the AlN layers have been studied using atomic force microscopy, X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy. Two different types of unique defect structures were observed. Rows of pure-edge-type threading dislocations were observed along the pre-existing step-edges of the SiC substrate for AlN grown on as-gas-etched SiC substrates, while the planar defects threading through the AlN layer were observed at the step-edges of the substrate for AlN on SiC with sacrificial oxidation. We concluded that these planar defects were the stacking mismatch boundaries due to the difference in stacking sequence of AlN layers on different SiC terraces. (© 2009 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)