We characterized an intrinsic interface defect, called the “PbC center,” formed at 4H-SiC(0001)/SiO2 interfaces by means of electron-spin-resonance (ESR) and electrically detected-magnetic-resonance (EDMR) spectroscopies. The formation of the PbC center was observed with a spin density of 3–4 × 1012 cm−2 after standard thermal oxidation. This center could be effectively removed by the NO post-oxidation-anneal (POA) process or ultra-high-temperature oxidation and could be passivated by H atoms via the H2 POA process. There was a clear correlation between the PbC center and field-effect mobility (μFE) of 4H-SiC(0001) metal–oxide–semiconductor field effect transistors (MOSFETs). The PbC center decreased μFE because this center acts as electron traps, reducing the free-carrier density in the inversion channel of 4H-SiC(0001) MOSFET. We also examined the counter doping effect of NO POA by introducing 15N impurities; however, the counter doping of 15N donors was not detectable by ESR (much lower than 2 × 1011 cm−2). Highly sensitive EDMR measurements revealed that the PbC center has two isotropic hyperfine (HF) interactions at 1.3 and 6.8 mT and suggested that its main 13C HF interaction should be larger than 14 mT. Based on the present experimental data, the origin of the PbC center was ascribed as a carbon-related interface defect that forms a C–H bond after hydrogen passivation. This feature is similar to that of the porous-PbC centers (carbon dangling-bond centers) found in porous-SiC/SiO2 systems. However, their HF signatures indicated that the PbC center at 4H-SiC(0001)/SiO2 interfaces and the porous-PbC centers in porous-SiC should be different centers associated with different wave functions.

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