Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Brian D. Thoms

Second Advisor

Nikolaus Dietz

Third Advisor

Vadym Apalkov

Fourth Advisor

Douglas Gies

Fifth Advisor

Mukesh Dhamala


Unique physical properties such as small effective mass, high electron drift velocities, high electron mobility and small band gap energy make InN a candidate for applications in high-speed microelectronic and optoelectronic devices. The aim of this research is to understand the surface properties, desorption kinetics and thermal stability of InN epilayers that affect the growth processes and determine film quality as well as device performance and life time. We have investigated the structural properties, the surface desorption kinetics, and the thermal stability using Auger electron spectroscopy (AES), x-ray diffraction (XRD), Raman spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM), high resolution electron energy loss spectroscopy (HREELS), and temperature programmed desorption (TPD). Investigations on high pressure chemical vapor deposition (HPCVD)-grown InN samples revealed the presence of tilted crystallites, which were attributed to high group V/III flux ratio and lattice mismatch. A study of the thermal stability of HPCVD-grown InN epilayers revealed that the activation energy for nitrogen desorption was 1.6±0.2 eV, independent of the group V/III flux ratio. Initial investigations on the ternary alloy In0.96Ga0.04N showed single-phase, N-polar epilayers using XRD and HREELS, while a thermal desorption study revealed an activation energy for nitrogen desorption of 1.14 ± 0.06 eV.

HREELS investigations of atomic layer epitaxy (ALE)-grown InN revealed vibrational modes assigned to N-N vibrations. The atomic hydrogen cleaned InN surface also exhibited modes assigned to surface N-H without showing In-H species, which indicated N-polar InN. Complete desorption of hydrogen from the InN surface was best described by the first-order desorption kinetics with an activation energy of 0.88 ± 0.06 eV and pre-exponential factor of (1.5 ± 0.5) ×105 s-1.

Overall, we have used a number of techniques to characterize the structure, surface bonding configuration, thermal stability and hydrogen desorption kinetics of InN and In0.96Ga0.04N epilayers grown by HPCVD and ALE. High group V/III precursors ratio and lattice mismatch have a crucial influence on the film orientation. The effects of hydrogen on the decomposition add to the wide variation in the activation energy of nitrogen desorption. Presence of surface defects lowers the activation energy for hydrogen desorption from the surface.