ABSTRACT: III-nitride semiconductors suffer significant efficiency limitations; 'efficiency' being an umbrella term that covers an extensive list of challenges that must be overcome if they are to fulfil their vast potential. To this end, it is imperative to understand the underlying phenomena behind such limitations. In this dissertation, I combine powerful optical and structural characterization techniques to investigate the carrier dynamics of the recombination phenomena in III-nitride materials for light emitting purposes. The results presented herein will enhance the current understanding of the carrier mechanisms in such devices, which will lead to efficiency improvements.
In the first part of this work, I investigate the effects of some important types of crystal defects present in III-nitride structures. Here, two types of defects are studied in two different III-nitride based light emitting structures. The first defects of interest are V-pit defects in InGaN/GaN multiple quantum well (MQW) blue LEDs, where their contribution to the high efficiency of such LEDs is discussed. In addition, the effect of these defects on the efficiency droop phenomenon in these LEDs is elucidated. Secondly, the optical effects of grain boundary defects in AlN-rich AlGaN/AlGaN MQWs is studied. In this study, it is shown that grain boundary defects may result in abnormal carrier localization behavior in these deep ultraviolet (UV) structures. While both defects are treated individually, it is evident from these studies that threading dislocation (TD) defects are an underlying contributor to the more undesirable outcomes of the said defects.
In the second part, the dissertation reports on the carrier dynamics of III-nitride LED structures grown on emerging substrates—as possible efficiency enhancing techniques—aimed at mitigating the effects of TD defects. Thus, the carrier dynamics of GaN/AlGaN UV MQWs grown, for the first time, on (2̄̅01) – oriented β-Ga2O3 is studied. It is shown to be a candidate substrate for highly efficient vertical UV devices. Finally, results from the carrier dynamics investigation of an AlGaN/AlGaN MQW LED homoepitaxially grown on AlN substrate are discussed, where it is shown that its high efficiency is sustained at high temperatures through the thermal redistribution of carriers to highly efficient recombination sites.