Aluminum Nitride Hardness

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Aluminum nitride, also known as azanylidynealumane (IUPAC nomenclature), is an inorganic material with the chemical formula AlN [1]. It is a solid nitride with high thermal conductivity, electrical resistivity and corrosion resistance. It is often combined with gallium nitride to form the wide-band gap semiconductor wurtzite AlGaN, used in optoelectronic devices operating at deep ultraviolet wavelengths.

In addition to being a popular material for use in a variety of electronic applications, aluminum nitride is widely used as a substitute for beryllium oxide in semiconductor-related industries due to the health hazards associated with working with beryllium compounds. It is highly effective at absorbing and dissipating heat, has good thermal insulation properties, a coefficient of thermal expansion that matches silicon wafer material, and is non-reactive with most process chemicals and gases.

It is produced by direct nitriding, carbothermal reduction or in-situ self-reaction synthesis methods from aluminum powder and other metals, such as copper, zirconium, vanadium, hafnium or tungsten. Aluminum nitride has a mohs hardness of 9 and a low dielectric constant, its coefficient of thermal expansion is similar to that of silicon crystal and its mechanical strength is high at room temperature.

The article presents the results of micro- and nano-indentation tests on bulk single-crystal GaN and AlN at RT. The hardness is compared to that of other typical wide-gap semiconductors SiC, Ge, SiN, GaAs and ZnSe and with the other III-V nitrides InN and InGaN. It is shown that the wurtzite AlN has a higher hardness than the other nitrides at RT, but the magnitude of the nano-hardness decreases significantly above RT.