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Study of the physical mechanisms leading to compositional biases in atom probe tomography of semiconductors

Abstract : Laser-assisted Atom Probe Tomography (La-APT) is a powerful tool for investigating the 3D atomic distribution of the chemical species in a wide variety of semiconductor materials. However, important compositional biases affect atom probe analyses revealing a non-stoichiometric composition. In the thesis a systematic study of selected binary (GaN, GaAs, ZnO) and ternary (AlGaN, MgZnO) semiconductors of high technological interest was developed in order to: (i) obtain a coherent description of the compositional biases in APT; (ii) identify the physical mechanisms leading to these biases; (iii) assess the experimental conditions for which the compositional analysis is reliable. In order to interpret the results, the hypothesis of preferential evaporation of metallic species (Ga, Al, Zn, Mg) at high field and emission of neutral non-metallic molecules (N2, O2) at low field has been proposed. Another important aim of this thesis is materials physics-oriented. It is indeed of utmost importance to study both composition and morphology of some devices of technological interest, such as in multi-quantum-well systems. In this perspective, the knowledge of 3D composition field and morphology is essential because these features determine the optical and electrical properties of the systems. In order to do it, a correlative microscopy approach can be adopted. This approach was successfully applied to the study of ZnO/MgZnO multi-quantum wells designed for quantum cascade lasers. Structural, compositional and optical properties were investigated performing correlative La-APT - Electron Tomography (ET) - micro-PhotoLuminescence (µ-PL) on the same atom probe tip specimens. The complementary APT and ET analyses yield a clear picture of the structure and composition of the system investigated, revealing important decomposition phenomena in the MgZnO alloy. In particular, La-APT proved to be a unique technique for a direct assessment of local composition. Moreover, µ-PL also proved to be extremely useful in order to get information related the composition, supporting La-APT results. Finally, a new correlative in-situ approach in which La-APT and µ-PL are simultaneously performed is presented. Thanks to the development of a specially designed tomographic atom probe, it is shown that µ-PL can be successfully performed on a single Zno/MgZnO atom probe tip during La-APT. This is extremely attractive and challenging because allows to strictly correlating the variation photoluminescence signal with nano-metric scale volumes of the tip evaporated during APT. In principle, the emission of single quantum light emitters (i.e. single QW or QD) can be revealed. The new approach presented can be extended to a wide range of materials, opening new perspectives for correlative studies of single atom probe tips.
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https://tel.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-01963142
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Submitted on : Friday, December 21, 2018 - 10:46:08 AM
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Enrico Di Russo. Study of the physical mechanisms leading to compositional biases in atom probe tomography of semiconductors. Material chemistry. Normandie Université, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018NORMR065⟩. ⟨tel-01963142⟩

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