Group III-nitride semiconductors have wide application in optoelectronic devices. Spontaneous and piezoelectric polarization effects have been found to be critical for electric and optical properties of group III-nitrides. In this dissertation, firstly, the crystal orientation dependence of the polarization is calculated and in-plane polarization is revealed. The in-plane polarization is sensitive to the lateral characteristic dimension determined by the microstructure. Specific semi-polar plane growth is suggested for reducing quantum-confined Stark effect. The macroscopic electrostatic field from the polarization discontinuity in the heterostructures is discussed, b ased on that, the band diagram of InGaN/GaN quantum well/barrier and AlGaN/GaN heterojunction is obtained from the self-consistent solution of Schrodinger and Poisson equations. New device design such as triangular quantum well with the quenched polarization field is proposed. Electron holography in the transmission electron microscopy is used to examine the electrostatic potential under polarization effects. The measured potential energy profiles of heterostructure are compared with the band simulation, and evidences of two-dimensional hole gas (2DHG) in a wurtzite AlGaN/ AlN/ GaN superlattice, as well as quasi two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG) in a zinc-blende AlGaN/GaN are found. The large polarization discontinuity of AlN/GaN is the main source of the 2DHG of wurtzite nitrides, while the impurity introduced during the growth of AlGaN layer provides the donor states that to a great extent balance the free electrons in zinc-blende nitrides. It is also found that the quasi-2DEG concentration in zinc-blende AlGaN/GaN is about one order of magnitude lower than the wurtzite AlGaN/GaN, due to the absence of polarization. Finally, the InAlN/GaN lattice-matched epitaxy, which ideally has a zero piezoelectric polarization and strong spontaneous polarization, is experimentally studied. The breakdown in compositional homogeneity is triggered by threading dislocations with a screw component propagating from the GaN underlayer, which tend to open up into V-grooves at a certain thickness of the InxAl1-xN layer. The V-grooves coalesce at 200 nm and are filled with material that exhibits a significant drop in indium content and a broad luminescence peak. The structural breakdown is due to heterogeneous nucleation and growth at the facets of the V-grooves.
- Polarization effects in group III-nitride materials and devices
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by Qiyuan Wei