Electric field dependent optoelectronic nature of InGaN/GaN quantum structures and devices
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In the past two decades we have been witnessing the emergence and rapid development of III-Nitride based optoelectronic devices including InGaN/GaN light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and laser diodes with operation wavelengths ranging from green-blue to near-UV. These InGaN/GaN devices are now being widely used in applications important for lighting, displays, and data storage, collectively exceeding a total market size of 10 billion USD. Although InGaN/GaN has been studied and exploited very extensively to date, its field dependent nature is mostly unknown and is surprisingly prone to quite unexpected behavior due to its intrinsic polarization property. In this thesis, we report our systematic study on the electric field dependent characteristics of InGaN/GaN quantum structures and devices including modulators and LEDs. Here we present our comparative study of electroabsorption in polar c-plane InGaN/GaN multiple quantum wells (MQWs) with different built-in polarization induced electrostatic fields. Analyzing modulator structures with varying structural MQW parameters, we find that electroabsorption grows stronger with decreasing built-in electrostatic field strength inside the well layer, as predicted by our theoretical model and verified by our experimental results. To further explore the field dependent optoelectronic nature of c-plane grown InGaN/GaN quantum structures, we investigate radiative carrier dynamics, which is of critical importance for LEDs. Our time and spectrum resolved photoluminescence measurements and numerical analyses indicate that the carrier lifetimes, the radiative recombination lifetimes, and the quantum efficiencies all decrease with increasing field. We also study the physics of electroabsorption and carrier dynamics in InGaN/GaN quantum heterostructures grown intentionally on nonpolar a-plane of the wurtzite crystal structure, which are free of the polarization-induced electrostatic fields. We compare these results with the conventional c-plane grown polar structures. In the polar case, we observe blue-shifting absorption profile and decreasing carrier lifetimes with increasing electric field. In the nonpolar case, however, we observe completely the opposite: a red-shifting absorption profile and increasing carrier lifetimes. We explain these observations in the context of basic physical principles including Fermi‟s golden rule and quantum-confined Stark effect. Also, we present electroabsorption behavior of InGaN/GaN quantum structures grown using epitaxial lateral overgrowth (ELOG) in correlation with their dislocation density levels and in comparison to steady state and time-resolved photoluminescence measurements. The results reveal that ELOG structures with decreasing mask stripe widths exhibit stronger electroabsorption performance. While keeping the ELOG window widths constant, compared to photoluminescence behavior, however, electroabsorption surprisingly exhibits the largest performance variation, making the electroabsorption the most sensitive to the mask stripe widths. This thesis work provides significant insight and important information for the optoelectronics of InGaN/GaN quantum structures and devices to better understand their field dependent nature.