Manipulating Conduction in Metal Oxide Semiconductors: Mechanism Investigation and Conductance Tuning in Doped Fe2O3 Hematite and Metal/Ga2O3/Metal Heterostructure
This study aims at understanding the fundamental mechanisms of conduction in several metal oxide semiconductors, namely Fe2O3 and Ga2O3, and how it could be tuned to desired values/states to enable a wide range of application. In the first effort, by adding Ti dopant, we successfully turned Fe2O3 from insulating to conductive by fabricated compositionally and structurally well-defined epitaxial alpha-(TixFe1-x)2O3(0001) films for x ≤ 0.09. All films were grown by oxygen plasma assisted molecular beam epitaxy on Al2O3(0001) sapphire substrate with a buffer layer of Cr2O3 to relax the strain from lattice mismatch. Van der Pauw resistivity and Hall effect measurements reveal carrier concentrations between 10^19 and 10^20 cm^-3 at room temperature and mobilities in the range of 0.1 to 0.6 cm2/V·s. Such low mobility, unlike conventional band-conduction semiconductor, was attributed to hopping mechanism due to strong electron-phonon interaction in the lattice. More interestingly, conduction mechanism transitions from small-polaron hopping at higher temperatures to variable range hopping at lower temperatures with a transition temperature between 180 to 140 K. Consequently, by adding Ti dopant, conductive Fe2O3 hematite thin films were achieved with a well-understood conducting mechanism that could guide further device application such as spin transistor and water splitting. In the case of Ga2O3, while having a band gap as high as ~5eV, they are usually conductive for commercially available samples due to unintentional Si doping. However, we discovered the conductance could be repeatedly switched between high resistance state and low resistance state when made into metal/Ga2O3/metal heterostructure. However, to obtain well controlled switching process with consistent switching voltages and resistances, understanding switching mechanism is the key. In this study, we fabricated resistive switching devices utilizing a Ni/Ga2O3/Ir heterostructure. Bipolar switching, non-volatility, and repeatable switching are tested for the devices fabricated. Following previous discoveries on Ni/Ga2O3 single crystal which shows interface barrier type change (Schottky ↔ Ohmic) upon annealing accompanied by defects migration, characterization of the interface behavior on resistive switching cell Ni/Ga2O3(thin film)/Ir under two different resistive states was performed using X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS). Most interestingly, feathers in XPS spectrum of Ga allow for a unique nondestructive approach to investigate interface by XPS through electron transparent top contact. Theoretical modeling shows that Ga migrate towards the interface upon switching to low resistive state, indicating a possible mechanism that involves interfacial switch through barrier height modifying. Such device holds potential to become the next generation of non-volatile memory device, resistive RAM.