Microstructure and electronic properties of InGaN alloys

Fernando Ponce, S. Srinivasan, A. Bell, L. Geng, R. Liu, M. Stevens, J. Cai, H. Omiya, H. Marui, S. Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


The InxGa1-xN system has electronic band gaps extending from under 1eV to 3.4 eV, and as such they are used as the active layer in commercially available visible-light emitting devices. There are many interesting features that make these nitride semiconductor alloys especially useful for efficient light emitters. It has been conjectured that the combination of piezoelectric fields and local composition inhomogeneities may be responsible for the observed high emission efficiencies, in spite of their characteristic high dislocation densities. But it is very difficult to grow InxGa1-xN layers with high indium composition. This paper presents an overview of the properties of InxGa1-xN epilayers based on a systematic study of thick layers and of quantum well structures. We find that the microstructure of thick films varies significantly with indium composition. For x < 0.08, the composition is uniform and unperturbed by dislocations. For 0.10 < x <0.20, secondary phases nucleate at threading dislocations. For x > 0.20, spontaneous phase separation occurs resulting in a polycrystalline, inhomogeneous layer. A correlation between optical properties and microstructure is presented. It is observed that the misfit strain is affected by threading dislocations. Mechanisms of misfit strain relaxation are presented for InxGa 1-xN layers grown on standard GaN on sapphire and on epitaxial-lateral-overgrowth GaN layers. In addition, we have studied the properties of quantum well structures using several novel techniques. The electrostatic fields across the wells have been profiled using electron holography in the TEM. The effect of well thickness on the strength of the fields is reported. The effects of localization by compositional fluctuations and of internal field screening have been studied using time-resolved cathodoluminescence spectroscopy. In spite of significant progress that has been made in the last ten years, much work remains ahead in order to master the science and technology of these alloys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-284
Number of pages12
JournalPhysica Status Solidi (B) Basic Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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