The SiC/SiO2 interface is a central component of many SiC electronic devices. Defects intrinsic to this interface can have a profound effect on their operation and reliability. It is therefore crucial to both understand the nature of these defects and develop characterization methods to enable optimized SiC-based devices. Here we make use of confocal microscopy to address single SiC/SiO2-related defects and show the technique to be a noncontact, nondestructive, spatially resolved and rapid means of assessing thequality of the SiC/SiO2 interface. This is achieved by a systematic investigation of the defect density of the SiC/SiO2 interface by varying the parameters of a nitric oxide passivation anneal after oxidation. Standard capacitance-based characterization techniques are used to benchmark optical emission rates and densities of the optically active SiC/SiO2-related defects. Further insight into the nature of these defects is provided by low-temperature optical measurements on single defects.
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