Journal article

Fermi-level pinning through defects at GaAs/oxide interfaces: A density functional study

Using density functional calculations, we study a set of candidate defects for Fermi-level pinning at GaAs/oxide interfaces. The set of considered defects comprises both bulklike and interfacial defects, including As antisites, Ga and As dangling bonds, the As-As dimer/dangling bond defect, and several defect complexes. The defects are generated within atomistic model structures representing the GaAs/Al2O3 interface. Formation energies of bulklike defects are obtained and compared with those of corresponding bulk defects, while interfacial defects are studied through their relative defect energies. Finite-size corrections to the defect energies are applied through a scheme that accounts for the interfacial geometry of our models. Defect levels are defined as thermodynamic transition levels between different charge states and are calculated for all considered defects. Through an alignment procedure based on hybrid functional calculations, the defect levels are then positioned within the calculated band gap of GaAs that reproduces the experimental one, thereby enabling direct comparisons with the experimental density of defect states. Our study shows that several As-related defects show a similar amphoteric bistability between an As-As dimer state and a configuration with two doubly occupied As dangling bonds. The associated charge transition levels generally lie in the midgap region, in accord with experimental observations. This mechanism is proposed as the origin of the observed Fermi-level pinning at GaAs/oxide interfaces.


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