Plastic Relaxation of Highly Tensile Strained (100) Ge/InGaAs Heterostructures
Goley, Patrick Stephen
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Biaxial tensile strain has been shown to greatly enhance the optoelectronic properties of epitaxial germanium (Ge) layers. As a result, tensile-Ge (and#949t-Ge) layers grown on larger lattice constant InGaAs or GeSn have attracted great research interest. However, no previous studies have investigated the plastic relaxation occurring in these and#949t-Ge layers. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that plastic relaxation occurs in nearly all and#949t-Ge epitaxial layers that are of practical interest for optoelectronic applications, even when layers may still exhibit strain-enhanced characteristics. We show arrays of misfit dislocations (MDs), which are mostly disassociated, form at the and#949t-Ge/InGaAs interface for and#949t-Ge layers as thin as 15 nm with less than 1% total mismatch. Wedge geometry of plain view transmission electron microscopy (PV-TEM) foils is utilized to carry out a depth dependent investigation MD spacing for a range of and#949t-Ge/InGaAs heterostructures. MD spacing measured by PV-TEM is correlated to and#949t-Ge layer relaxation measured by high-resolution x-ray diffraction. We confirm very low relaxation (< 10% relaxed) in and#949t-Ge layers does not imply they have been coherently grown. We demonstrate plastic relaxation in the and#949t-Ge layer is acutely sensitive to grown-in threading dislocations (TDs) in the template material, and that reducing TD density is critical for maximizing strain retention. Given that and#949t-Ge layer thicknesses of 150+ nm with greater than 1% tensile strain are desired for optoelectronic devices, this work suggests that MDs may inevitably be present at and#949t-Ge/InGaAs heterointerfaces in practical devices, and that the effect of MDs on optoelectronic performance must be better understood.
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