Authors: Rao, D; Biswas, B; Flores, E; Chatterjee, A; Garbrecht, M; Koh, YR; Bhatia, V; Pillai, AIK; Hopkins, PE; Martin-Gonzalez, M; Saha, B

Appl. Phys. Lett.. vol: 116. page: 0003-6951.
Date: APR 13. 2020.
Doi: 10.1063/5.0004761.

Scandium nitride (ScN) is an emerging rock salt III-nitride semiconductor and has attracted significant interest in recent years for its potential thermoelectric applications as a substrate for high-quality epitaxial GaN growth and as a semiconducting component for epitaxial single-crystalline metal/semiconductor superlattices for thermionic energy conversion. Solid-solution alloys of ScN with traditional III-nitrides such as AlxSc1-xN have demonstrated piezoelectric and ferroelectric properties and are actively researched for device applications. While most of these exciting developments in ScN research have employed films deposited using low-vacuum methods such as magnetron sputtering and physical and chemical vapor depositions for thermoelectric applications and Schottky barrier-based thermionic energy conversion, it is necessary and important to avoid impurities, tune the carrier concentrations, and achieve high-mobility in epitaxial films. Here, we report the high-mobility and high-thermoelectric power factor in epitaxial ScN thin films deposited on MgO substrates by plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy. Microstructural characterization shows epitaxial 002 oriented ScN film growth on MgO (001) substrates. Electrical measurements demonstrated a high room-temperature mobility of 127cm(2)/Vs and temperature-dependent mobility in the temperature range of 50-400K that is dominated by dislocation and grain boundary scattering. High mobility in ScN films leads to large Seebeck coefficients (-175 mu V/K at 950K) and, along with a moderately high electrical conductivity, a large thermoelectric power factor (2.3×10(-3) W/m-K-2 at 500K) was achieved, which makes ScN a promising candidate for thermoelectric applications. The thermal conductivity of the films, however, was found to be a bit large, which resulted in a maximum figure-of-merit of 0.17 at 500K..