Research Article Open Access

Photoelectrochemical Corrosion of GaN/AlGaN-Based p-n Structures

Alexander Usikov1, Heikki Helava2, Alexey Nikiforov3, Michael Puzyk4, Boris Papchenko2 and Yuri Makarov5
  • 1 University ITMO, Russia
  • 2 Nitride Crystals Inc, United States
  • 3 Boston University, United States
  • 4 Herzen University, Russia
  • 5 Nitride Crystals Group Ltd, Russia
American Journal of Applied Sciences
Volume 13 No. 7, 2016, 845-852


Submitted On: 31 October 2015 Published On: 31 July 2016

How to Cite: Usikov, A., Helava, H., Nikiforov, A., Puzyk, M., Papchenko, B. & Makarov, Y. (2016). Photoelectrochemical Corrosion of GaN/AlGaN-Based p-n Structures. American Journal of Applied Sciences, 13(7), 845-852.


Direct water photoelectrolysis using III-N materials is a promising way for hydrogen production. GaN/AlGaN based p-n structures were used as working electrodes in a photoelectrochemical process to investigate the material etching (corrosion). The structures were grown on sapphire substrates by chloride Hydride Vapor Phase Epitaxy (HVPE). First, the etching process occurs near vertically via channels associated with defects in the structure and penetrates deep into the structure. Then, the process involves etching of the n-type AlGaN barrier and n-GaN active layer in lateral direction resulting in formation of voids and cavities. The lateral etching is due to net positive charges at the AlGaN/GaN interfaces arising because of spontaneous and piezoelectric polarization in the structure and positively charged ionized donors in the space charge region of the p-n junction.

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  • Hydride Vapor Phase Epitaxy
  • III-N Structures
  • Photo-Assisted Electrochemical Process