In this dissertation, various characterization techniques have been used to investigate many aspects of the properties of III-nitride materials and devices for optoelectronic applications.
The first part of this work is focused on the evolution of microstructures of BAlN thin films. The films were grown by flow-modulated epitaxy at 1010 oC, with B/(B+Al) gas-flow ratios ranging from 0.06 to 0.18. The boron content obtained from X-ray diffraction (XRD) patterns ranges from x = 0.02 to 0.09, while Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) measures x = 0.06 to 0.16. Transmission electron microscopy indicates the sole presence of the wurtzite crystal structure in the BAlN films, and a tendency towards twin formation and finer microstructure for B/(B+Al) gas-flow ratios greater than 0.15. The RBS data suggest that the incorporation of B is highly efficient, while the XRD data indicate that the epitaxial growth may be limited by a solubility limit in the crystal phase at about 9%. Electron energy loss spectroscopy has been used to profile spatial variations in the composition of the films. It has also located point defects in the films with nanometer resolution. The defects are identified as B and Al interstitials and N vacancies by comparison of the observed energy thresholds with results of density functional theory calculations.
The second part of this work investigates dislocation clusters observed in thick InxGa1-xN films with 0.07 ≤ x ≤ 0.12. The clusters resemble baskets with a higher indium content at their interior. Threading dislocations at the basket boundaries are of the misfit edge type, and their separation is consistent with misfit strain relaxation due the difference in indium content between the baskets and the surrounding matrix. The base of the baskets exhibits no observable misfit dislocations connected to the threading dislocations, and often no net displacements like those due to stacking faults. It is argued that the origin of these threading dislocation arrays is associated with misfit dislocations at the basal plane that dissociate, forming stacking faults. When the stacking faults form simultaneously satisfying the crystal symmetry, the sum of their translation vectors does add up to zero, consistent with our experimental observations.