Inverted vertical AlGaN deep ultraviolet LEDs grown on p-SiC substrates by molecular beam epitaxy
Nothern, Denis Maurice
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Deep ultraviolet light emitting diodes (UV LEDs) are an important emerging technology for a number of applications such as water/air/surface disinfection, communications, and epoxy curing. However, as of yet, deep UV LEDs grown on sapphire substrates are neither efficient enough nor powerful enough to fully serve these and other potential applications. The majority of UV LEDs reported so far in the literature are grown on sapphire substrates and their design consists of AlGaN quantum wells (QWs) embedded in an AlGaN p-i-n junction with the n-type layer on the sapphire. These devices suffer from a high concentration of threading defects originating from the large lattice mismatch between the sapphire substrate and AlGaN alloys. Other issues include the poor doping efficiency of the n- and particularly the p-AlGaN alloys, the extraction of light through the sapphire substrate, and the heat dissipation through the thermally insulating sapphire substrate. These problems have historically limited the internal quantum efficiency (IQE), injection efficiency (IE), and light extraction efficiency (EE) of devices. As a means of addressing these efficiency and power challenges, I have contributed to the development of a novel inverted vertical deep UV LED design based on AlGaN grown on p-SiC substrates. Starting with a p-SiC substrate that serves as the p-type side of the p-i-n junction largely eliminates the necessity for the notoriously difficult p-type doping of AlGaN alloys, and allows for efficient heat dissipation through the highly thermally conductive SiC substrate. UV light absorption in the SiC substrate can be addressed by first growing p-type doped distributed Bragg reflectors (DBRs) on top of the substrate prior to the deposition of the active region of the device. A number of n-AlGaN films, AlGaN/AlGaN multiple quantum wells, and p-type doped AlGaN DBRs were grown by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE). These were characterized in situ by reflected high energy electron diffraction (RHEED) and ex situ by x-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, photoluminescence, and reflectivity. Using the primary elements of the proposed design, this research culminated in the MBE growth, fabrication, and characterization of prototype deep UV LED devices emitting below 300 nm.