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Atomic structures of a liquid-phase bonded metal/nitride heterointerface:Associate Professor Naoya Shibata, Department of Institute of Engineering Innovation / Materials Engineering, and other researchers.

Liquid-phase bonding is a technologically important method to fabricate high-performance metal/ceramic heterostructures used for power electronic devices. However, the atomic-scale mechanisms of how these two dissimilar crystals specifically bond at the interfaces are still not well understood. Here we analyse the atomically-resolved structure of a liquid-phase bonded heterointerface between Al alloy and AlN single crystal using aberration corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). In addition, energy-dispersive X-ray microanalysis, using dual silicon drift X-ray detectors in STEM, was performed to analyze the local chemistry of the interface. We find that a monolayer of MgO is spontaneously formed on the AlN substrate surface and that a polarity-inverted monolayer of AlN is grown on top of it. Thus, the Al alloy is bonded with the polarity-inverted AlN monolayer, creating a complex atomic-scale layered structure, facilitating the bonding between the two dissimilar crystals during liquid-phase bonding processes. Density-functional-theory calculations confirm that the bonding stability is strongly dependent on the polarity and stacking of AlN and MgO monolayers. Understanding the spontaneous formation of layered transition structures at the heterointerface will be key in fabricating very stable Al alloy/AlN heterointerface required for high reliability power electronic devices.



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