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The characteristics of Pt/GaN Schottky diodes and Sc2O3/AlGaN/GaN metal-oxide semiconductor (MOS) diodes as hydrogen and ethylene gas sensors and of gateless AlGaN/GaN high-electron mobility transistors (HEMTs) as polar liquid sensors are reported. At 25°C, a change in forward current of ∼6 mA at a bias of 2 V was obtained in the MOS diodes in response to a change in ambient from pure N2 to 10% H2/ 90% N2. This is approximately double the change in forward current obtained in Pt/GaN Schottky diodes measured under the same conditions. The mechanism appears to be formation of a dipole layer at the oxide/GaN interface that screens some of the piezo-induced channel charge. The MOS-diode response time is limited by the mass transport of gas into the test chamber and not by the diffusion of atomic hydrogen through the metal/oxide stack, even at 25°C. Gateless AlGaN/GaN HEMT structures exhibit large changes in source-drain current upon exposing the gate region to various polar liquids, including block co-polymer solutions. The polar nature of some of these polymer chains lead to a change of surface charges in gate region on the HEMT, producing a change in surface potential at the semiconductor/liquid interface. The nitride sensors appear to be promising for a wide range of chemicals, combustion gases and liquids.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2005