Real-space observation of a two-dimensional electron gas at semiconductor heterointerfaces



Satoko Toyama, Takehito Seki, Yuya Kanitani, Yoshihiro Kudo, Shigetaka Tomiya, Yuichi Ikuhara & Naoya Shibata


Mobile charge carriers are essential components in high-performance, nano-engineered semiconductor devices. Employing charge carriers confined to heterointerfaces, the so-called two-dimensional electron gas, is essential for improving device performance. The real-space visualization of a two-dimensional electron gas at the nanometre scale is desirable. However, it is challenging to accomplish by means of electron microscopy due to an unavoidable strong diffraction contrast formation at the heterointerfaces. We performed direct, nanoscale electric field imaging across a GaN-based semiconductor heterointerface using differential phase contrast scanning transmission electron microscopy by suppressing diffraction contrasts. For both nearly the lattice-matched GaN/Al0.81In0.19N interface and pseudomorphic GaN/Al0.88In0.12N interface, the extracted quantitative electric field profiles show excellent agreement with profiles predicted using Poisson simulation. Furthermore, we used the electric field profiles to quantify the density and distribution of the two-dimensional electron gas across the heterointerfaces with nanometre precision. This study is expected to guide the real-space characterization of local charge carrier density and distribution in semiconductor devices.




Nature Nanotechnology: