Scandium nitride (ScN) is an emerging rock salt III-nitride semiconductor and has attracted significant interest in recent years for its potential thermoelectric applications as a substrate for high-quality epitaxial GaN growth and as a semiconducting component for epitaxial single-crystalline metal/semiconductor superlattices for thermionic energy conversion. Solid-solution alloys of ScN with traditional III-nitrides such as AlxSc1−xN have demonstrated piezoelectric and ferroelectric properties and are actively researched for device applications. While most of these exciting developments in ScN research have employed films deposited using low-vacuum methods such as magnetron sputtering and physical and chemical vapor depositions for thermoelectric applications and Schottky barrier-based thermionic energy conversion, it is necessary and important to avoid impurities, tune the carrier concentrations, and achieve high-mobility in epitaxial films. Here, we report the high-mobility and high-thermoelectric power factor in epitaxial ScN thin films deposited on MgO substrates by plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy. Microstructural characterization shows epitaxial 002 oriented ScN film growth on MgO (001) substrates. Electrical measurements demonstrated a high room-temperature mobility of 127 cm2/V s and temperature-dependent mobility in the temperature range of 50–400 K that is dominated by dislocation and grain boundary scattering. High mobility in ScN films leads to large Seebeck coefficients (−175 μV/K at 950 K) and, along with a moderately high electrical conductivity, a large thermoelectric power factor (2.3 × 10−3 W/m-K2 at 500 K) was achieved, which makes ScN a promising candidate for thermoelectric applications. The thermal conductivity of the films, however, was found to be a bit large, which resulted in a maximum figure-of-merit of 0.17 at 500 K.
High mobility and high thermoelectric power factor in epitaxial ScN thin films deposited with plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy
Dheemahi Rao, Bidesh Biswas, Eduardo Flores, Abhijit Chatterjee, Magnus Garbrecht, Yee Rui Koh, Vijay Bhatia, Ashalatha Indiradevi Kamalasanan Pillai, Patrick E. Hopkins, Marisol Martin-Gonzalez, Bivas Saha; High mobility and high thermoelectric power factor in epitaxial ScN thin films deposited with plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy. Appl. Phys. Lett. 13 April 2020; 116 (15): 152103. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0004761
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