Zlatko Sitar

Kobe Steel Distinguished Professor

  • 919-515-8637
  • Research Building I 217

Prof. Sitar founded the WideBandgaps research laboratory that is focusing on bulk and thin film growth, characterization, and device development in wide bandgap semiconductors: GaN, AlN, and their alloys. He has pioneered the III-nitride MBE process through the design of a unique ECR plasma source, developed, patented, and commercialized a process for growth of AlN crystals, which is currently the only commercial high-quality AlN crystal growth process in the world (commercialized by HexaTech, Inc.), developed, patented, and commercialized epi-ready wafers and device layer growth processes on AlN wafers, which are the basis for high-efficiency deep-UV lasers and light emitting diodes, invented and patented a process for growth of III-nitride lateral polar structures via MOCVD and proposed and demonstrated novel devices based on this invention, which include lateral p-n diodes, low contact-resistance field effect transistors, quasi phase matched structures for optical frequency doubling, and superjunction-based devices.

Prof. Sitar directs the Materials Research Center at NCSU and holds joint appointments in Physics Department at NCSU and Electrical Engineering at University of Nagoya, Japan. His collaborative network spans all four inhabited continents. Based on his research, he founded HexaTech, Inc., an NCSU spin-out focusing on AlN crystal growth and wafer production and Adroit Materials, Inc., who is focusing on the development of UV light emitting devices on the AlN platform and vertical devices on native GaN substrates.


Ph.D. 1990

Materials Science and Engineering

North Carolina State University

M.S. 1987


University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

B.S. 1982


University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Research Description

Highlights of recent research accomplishments: •Developed a scalable process and equipment for growth of AlN single crystals and processes for fabrication of AlN substrates thereof. This is an extremely challenging process due to the high temperatures involved (2400°C) and materials compatibility issues. This leading work on III-nitride substrate technology is internationally recognized; many aspects of this work are patented and the technology is being commercialized. •Demonstrated the first true lasing in the UV spectral range, showing low threshold, high slope efficiency, polarization of light, narrow line, cavity modes, and far field pattern. Achieved record high IQE and low lasing threshold in AlGaN-based structures. •Following a more than 30-year-long debate in the open literature, and several years of our own research, we have finally solved the puzzle of UV absorption in AlN; this is a key finding that enables this technology to move forward. We have shown for the first time that by the manipulation of the Fermi level during the growth of wide bandgap semiconductors, we can control on what sites the point defects incorporate and what complexes form; this is an enabling technology that turns wide bandgap materials that are otherwise considered insulators into useful semiconductors. Developed a model explaining how the position of the Fermi level influences incorporation of compensating point defects. The model has been successfully used to reduce compensation by 2 orders of magnitude. •Developed an environmentally friendly, hydrogenless MOCVD process for growth of III-nitrides, which uses 100-times less ammonia and achieves films of very high quality. The process is being patented. •Developed MOCVD process for growth of GaN and AlN with controlled polarity (c+ or c-) on the same wafer; so far, others are able to grow only the c+ polar films. This process opens completely new opportunities for device design and exploitation of polarization effects in III-nitrides. Designed and demonstrated lateral polarity p-n junctions, light emitting diodes, field effect transistors, and demonstrated quasi-phase matched second harmonic generation. This work is patented. •Directly measured and explained ballistic transport in III-nitrides – developed experimental setup for precise measurement of electron energies; the first measurements of this kind in any semiconductor.

Honors and Awards

  • RJ Reynolds Award for Excellence in Research, Teaching and Extension, 2012
  • Kobe Steel Distinguished Chair, 2008
  • Entrepreneurship and Leadership Award, 2006
  • Alcoa Foundation Distinguished Engineering Award, 2004
  • Office of Naval Research MURI award, 2001


Morphological study of InGaN on GaN substrate by supersaturation (vol 508, pg 58, 2019)
Liu, Z., Nitta, S., Robin, Y., Kushimoto, M., Deki, M., Honda, Y., … Amano, H. (2019), JOURNAL OF CRYSTAL GROWTH. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrysgro.2019.02.058
Quasi-phase-matched second harmonic generation of UV light using AlN waveguides
Alden, D., Troha, T., Kirste, R., Mita, S., Guo, Q., Hoffmann, A., … Sitar, Z. (2019), APPLIED PHYSICS LETTERS, 114(10). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5087058
Structural characteristics of m-plane AlN substrates and homoepitaxial films
Graziano, M. B., Bryan, I., Bryan, Z., Kirste, R., Tweedie, J., Collazo, R., & Sitar, Z. (2019), JOURNAL OF CRYSTAL GROWTH, 507, 389–394. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrysgro.2018.07.012
The role of transient surface morphology on composition control in AlGaN layers and wells
Dycus, J. H., Washiyama, S., Eldred, T. B., Guan, Y., Kirste, R., Mita, S., … LeBeau, J. M. (2019), APPLIED PHYSICS LETTERS, 114(3). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5063933
A thermodynamic supersaturation model for the growth of aluminum gallium nitride by metalorganic chemical vapor deposition
Washiyama, S., Reddy, P., Kaess, F., Kirste, R., Mita, S., Collazo, R., & Sitar, Z. (2018), JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 124(11). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5045058
Doping and compensation in Al-rich AlGaN grown on single crystal AlN and sapphire by MOCVD
Bryan, I., Bryan, Z., Washiyama, S., Reddy, P., Gaddy, B., Sarkar, B., … Sitar, Z. (2018), Applied Physics Letters, 112(6). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5011984
Improvement in detection limit for time-of-flight SIMS analysis of dopants in GaN structures
Klump, A., Zhou, C. Z., Stevie, F. A., Collazo, R., & Sitar, Z. (2018), Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. B, Microelectronics and Nanometer Structures, 36(3). https://doi.org/10.1116/1.5013001
Nitride surface chemistry influence on band offsets at epitaxial oxide/GaN interfaces
Paisley, E. A., Brumbach, M. T., Shelton, C. T., Allerman, A. A., Atcitty, S., Rost, C. M., … Ihlefeld, J. F. (2018), Applied Physics Letters, 112(9). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5013605
On Contacts to III-nitride deep-UV emitters
Sarkar, B., Reddy, P., Klump, A., Rounds, R., Breckenridge, M. R., Haidet, B. B., … Sitar, Z. (2018), In 2018 3rd International Conference on Microwave and Photonics (ICMAP). https://doi.org/10.1109/icmap.2018.8354575
On compensation in Si-doped AlN
Harris, J. S., Baker, J. N., Gaddy, B. E., Bryan, I., Bryan, Z., Mirrielees, K. J., … Irving, D. L. (2018), Applied Physics Letters, 112(15). https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5022794

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