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Published July 1998 | Published
Journal Article Open

Ballistic electron emission microscopy spectroscopy study of AlSb and InAs/AlSb superlattice barriers


Due to its large band gap, AlSb is often used as a barrier in antimonide heterostructure devices. However, its transport characteristics are not totally clear. We have employed ballistic electron emission microscopy (BEEM) to directly probe AlSb barriers as well as more complicated structures such as selectively doped n-type InAs/AlSb superlattices. The aforementioned structures were grown by molecular beam epitaxy on GaSb substrates. A 100 Å InAs or 50 Å GaSb capping layer was used to prevent surface oxidation from ex situ processing. Different substrate and capping layer combinations were explored to suppress background current and maximize transport of BEEM current. The samples were finished with a sputter deposited 100 Å metal layer so that the final BEEM structure was of the form of a metal/capping layer/semiconductor. Of note is that we have found that hole current contributed significantly to BEEM noise due to type II band alignment in the antimonide system. BEEM data revealed that the electron barrier height of Al/AlSb centered around 1.17 eV, which was attributed to transport through the conduction band minimum near the AlSb X point. Variation in the BEEM threshold indicated unevenness at the Al/AlSb interface. The metal on semiconductor barrier height was too low for the superlattice to allow consistent probing by BEEM spectroscopy. However, the superlattice BEEM signal was elevated above the background noise after repeated stressing of the metal surface. A BEEM threshold of 0.8 eV was observed for the Au/24 Å period superlattice system after the stress treatment.

Additional Information

© 1998 American Vacuum Society (Received 21 January 1998; accepted 28 May 1998) The authors would like to thank D. H. Chow of Hughes Research Lab for helpful discussions of antimonide growth. This study was supported in part by the Office of Naval Research under Grant No. N00019-89-J-00014 and by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under Grant No. F49620-93-J-0258.

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