The development of ultraviolet light emitting diodes on p-SiC substrates
Brummer, Gordon Clark
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Ultraviolet (UV) light emitting diodes (LEDs) are promising light sources for purification, phototherapy, and resin curing applications. Currently, commercial UV LEDs are composed of AlGaN-based n-i-p junctions grown on sapphire substrates. These devices suffer from defects in the active region, inefficient p-type doping, and poor light extraction efficiency. This dissertation addresses the development of a novel UV LED device structure, grown on p-SiC substrates. In this device structure, the AlGaN-based intrinsic (i) and n-layers are grown directly on the p-type substrate, forming a p-i-n junction. The intrinsic layer (active region) is composed of an AlN buffer layer followed by three AlN/Al0.30Ga0.70N quantum wells. After the intrinsic layer, the n-layer is formed from n-type AlGaN. This device architecture addresses the deficiencies of UV LEDs on sapphire substrates while providing a vertical device geometry, reduced fabrication complexity, and improved thermal management. The device layers were grown by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE). The material properties were optimized by considering varying growth conditions and by considering the role of the layer within the device. AlN grown at 825 C and with a Ga surfactant yielded material with screw dislocation density of 1x10^7 cm^-2 based on X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis. AlGaN alloys grown in this work contained compositional inhomogeneity, as verified by high-resolution XRD, photoluminescence, and absorption measurements. Based on Stokes shift measurements, the degree of compositional inhomogeneity was correlated with the amount of excess Ga employed during growth. Compositional inhomogeneity yields carrier localizing potential fluctuations, which are advantages in light emitting device layers. Therefore, excess Ga growth conditions were used to grow AlN/Al0.30Ga0.70N quantum wells (designed using a wurtzite k.p model) with 35% internal quantum efficiency. Potential fluctuations limit the mobility of carriers and introduce sub-bandgap absorption, making them undesirable in the n-AlGaN layers. n-Al0.60Ga0.40N grown under stoichiometric Ga flux and an In surfactant reduced the Stokes shift (compared to n-AlGaN grown without In) by 150 meV. However, even under these growth modes, some compositional inhomogeneity persisted which is speculatively attributed to the vicinal substrate. Device epitaxial layer stacks utilizing the optimum growth conditions were fabricated into prototype vertical UV LEDs which emit from 295-320 nm. In order to increase light extraction efficiency, UV distributed Bragg reflectors (DBRs) based on compositionally graded AlGaN alloys were designed using the transfer matrix method (TMM) and grown by MBE. DBRs were formed from repeated compositionally graded AlGaN alloys. This structure utilized the polarization doping and index of refraction variation of graded composition AlGaN. DBRs with square wave, sinusoidal, triangular, and sawtooth compositional profiles were realized, with reflectivity peaks over 50%, centered at 280 nm.