We systematically studied the desorption induced GaN/AlN quantum dot formation using cathodoluminescence spectroscopy directly performed in a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM). The GaN films were grown by metal organic vapor phase epitaxy (MOVPE) on top of an AlN/sapphire-template. After the deposition of a few monolayers GaN at 960°C a growth interruption (GRI) without ammonia supply was applied to allow for quantum dot formation. A sample series with GRI durations from 0 s to 60 s was prepared to analyze the temporal evolution systematically. Each quantum dot (QD) structure was capped with AlN grown at 1195°C.
Without GRI the cross-sectional STEM images of the reference sample reveal a continuous GaN layer with additional hexagonally-shaped truncated pyramids of 20 nm height and ~100 nm lateral diameter covering dislocation bundles. Spatially averaged spectra exhibit a broad emission band between 260 nm and 310 nm corresponding to the continuous GaN layer. The truncated pyramids exhibit only drastically reduced CL intensity in panchromatic images.
Growth interruption leads to desorption of GaN resulting in smaller islands without definite form located in close vicinity to threading dislocations. Now the emission band of the continuous GaN layer is shifted to shorter wavelengths indicating a reduction of GaN layer thickness. By applying 30 s GRI these islands exhibit quantum dot emission in the spectral range from 220 nm to 310 nm with ultra narrow line widths. For longer growth interruptions the QD ensemble luminescence is shifted to lower wavelengths accompanied by intensity reduction indicating a reduced QD density.
Gordon Schmidt, Hannes Schürmann, Sebastian Metzner, Peter Veit, Frank Bertram, Christoph Berger, Jürgen Bläsing, Armin Dadgar, André Strittmatter, and Jürgen Christen, "Investigation of desorption-induced GaN quantum-dot formation using cathodoluminescence microscopy (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10532, Gallium Nitride Materials and Devices XIII, 105320N (Presented at SPIE OPTO: January 30, 2018; Published: 14 March 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2290737.5751531010001.
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