This dissertation covers my doctoral research on the cathodoluminescence (CL) study of the optical properties of III-niride semiconductors.
The first part of this thesis focuses on the optical properties of Mg-doped gallium nitride (GaN:Mg) epitaxial films. GaN is an emerging material for power electronics, especially for high power and high frequency applications. Compared to traditional Si-based devices, GaN-based devices offer superior breakdown properties, faster switching speed, and reduced system size. Some of the current device designs involve lateral p-n junctions which require selective-area doping. Dopant distribution in the selectively-doped regions is a critical issue that can impact the device performance. While most studies on Mg doping in GaN have been reported for epitaxial grown on flat c-plane substrates, questions arise regarding the Mg doping efficiency and uniformity in selectively-doped regions, where growth on surfaces etched away from the exact c-plane orientation is involved. Characterization of doping concentration distribution in lateral structures using secondary ion mass spectroscopy lacks the required spatial resolution. In this work, visualization of acceptor distribution in GaN:Mg epilayers grown by metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) was achieved at sub-micron scale using CL imaging. This was enabled by establishing a correlation among the luminescence characteristics, acceptor concentration, and electrical conductivity of GaN:Mg epilayers. Non-uniformity in acceptor distribution has been observed in epilayers grown on mesa structures and on miscut substrates. It is shown that non-basal-plane surfaces, such as mesa sidewalls and surface step clusters, promotes lateral growth along the GaN basal planes with a reduced Mg doping efficiency. The influence of surface morphology on the Mg doping efficiency in GaN has been studied.
The second part of this thesis focuses on the optical properties of InGaN for photovoltaic applications. The effects of thermal annealing and low energy electron beam irradiation (LEEBI) on the optical properties of MOCVD-grown In0.14Ga0.86N films were studied. A multi-fold increase in luminescence intensity was observed after 800 °C thermal annealing or LEEBI treatment. The mechanism leading to the luminescence intensity increase has been discussed. This study shows procedures that significantly improve the luminescence efficiency of InGaN, which is important for InGaN-based optoelectronic devices.