Impact of point defects on the luminescence properties of (Al,Ga)N

Shigefusa F. Chichibu, Akira Uedono, Takeyoshi Onuma, Steven P. DenBaars, Umesh K. Mishra, James S. Speck, Shuji Nakamura

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Threading dislocations (TDs) in (Al,In,Ga)N semiconductors are known to affect the luminescence efficiency of near-band-edge (NBE) emissions in bulk films and quantum structures. However, the principal role of point defects such as vacancies on the luminescent properties has not been fully understood. In this article, impacts of point defects on the luminescence quantum efficiency of NBE emissions and on the intensity of deep emission bands will be described, based on the results of steady-state and time-resolved photoluminescence (TRPL) and positron annihilation measurements. The room temperature nonradiative lifetime (TNR) of the NBE excitonic photoluminescence (PL) peak in polar (0001) and (000-1) , nonpolar (11-20) and (10-10), and zincblende (001) GaN layers prepared by various growth techniques was shown to increase with the decrease in concentration or size of Ga vacancies (VGa) and with the decrease in gross concentration of point defects including complexes, leading to an increase in the NBE PL intensity. As the edge TD density decreased, the concentration or size of VGa, tended to decrease and τNR tended to increase. However, there existed remarkable exceptions. The results indicate that the nonradiative recombination process is governed not by single point defects, but by certain defects introduced with the incorporation of VGa, such as VGa-defect complexes. Similar relations were found in AlxGa1-xN alloy films grown by metalorganic vapor phase epitaxy: i. e. τNR at room temperature increased with the decrease in the concentration of cation vacancies (VIII) and with the decrease in gross concentration of point defects. In addition to nonradiative processes, the VIII concentration was found to correlate with the intensity ratio of characteristic deep emission band to the NBE emission (Ideep/INBE). For example, Ideep/INBE at low temperature for the deep emission bands at 4.6, 3.8, and 3.1 eV of AlN epilayers grown by NH 3-source molecular beam epitaxy had a linear correlation with the concentration or size of Al vacancies (VAl). Since the relative intensities of 3.1 eV and 3.8 eV bands increased remarkably with lowering the supply ratio of NH3 to Al (V/III ratio) and growth temperature (Tg), they were assigned to originate from VAl-O as well as VAl-shallow donor complexes. The VAl concentration could be decreased by adjusting the V/III ratio and Tg. In the case of AlxGa1-xN alloys, the concentration or size of V III and Ideep/INBE at 300 K increased simultaneously with the increase in x up to approximately 0.7. Similar to the case for GaN and AlN, the deep emission band was assigned as being due to the emission involving VIII-O complexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-248
Number of pages16
JournalMaterials Science Forum
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • AlGaN
  • AlN
  • Emission efficiency
  • GaN
  • Luminescence
  • Nonradiative recombination
  • Point defect
  • Vacancy


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