Origin and Control of OFF-State Leakage Current in GaN-on-Si Vertical Diodes

Conventional GaN vertical devices, though promising for high-power applications, need expensive GaN substrates. Recently, low-cost GaN-on-Si vertical diodes have been demonstrated for the first time. This paper presents a systematic study to understand and control the OFF-state leakage current in the GaN-on-Si vertical diodes. Various leakage sources were investigated and separated, including leakage through the bulk drift region, passivation layer, etch sidewall, and transition layers. To suppress the leakage along the etch sidewall, an advanced edge termination technology has been developed by combining plasma treatment, tetramethylammonium hydroxide wet etching, and ion implantation.

With this advanced edge termination technology, an OFF-state leakage current similar to Si, SiC, and GaN lateral devices has been achieved in the GaN-on-Si vertical diodes with over 300 V breakdown voltage and 2.9-MV/cm peak electric field. The origin of the remaining OFF-state leakage current can be explained by a combination of electron tunneling at the p-GaN/drift-layer interface and carrier hopping between dislocation traps. The low leakage current achieved in these devices demonstrates the great potential of the GaN-on-Si vertical device as a new low-cost candidate for high-performance powerelectronics.