Optimization of NH₃-MBE grown p-doped (Al)GaN layers and their implementation in long wavelength laser diodes and tunnel junctions

Over the last two decades III-nitride optoelectronic devices have experienced an impressive evolution in terms of performance. However, their potential is far from being fully exploited. Although they offer bandgaps from the deep UV to the infrared spectral range, lasing is currently restricted to the 336¿536 nm wavelength region. Several challenges still need to be overcome. For example, the thermal stability of the InGaN active region becomes an issue in long-wavelength (¿ > 500 nm) laser diodes: high indium content (In > 25%) quantum wells (QWs) have been shown to markedly degrade when kept above 900 °C. For this reason, the growth temperature of the subsequent p-type waveguide and cladding layers must be sufficiently low to avoid QW degradation, which is accompanied by a reduction in the internal quantum efficiency. Thanks to the high vacuum environment, molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) allows growing these layers at a much lower temperature compared to metalorganic vapor phase epitaxy (MOVPE), and could be used to reduce the thermal budget on the active region, further extending the wavelength range. Thus the aim of this thesis is the realization of long wavelength laser diodes by combining high efficiency active regions grown by MOVPE with p-doped layers grown by ammonia-MBE. Hence, the p-type doping by ammonia-MBE is first scrupulously studied and optimized on 500 nm thick (Al)GaN layers. In order to comprehensively address the physical processes governing the doping efficiency, the role of the growth temperature, the V-III ratio, and the growth rate is investigated. In addition, the Mg cell configuration resulting in the best doping profile control and reproducibility is studied as well. Electrochemical capacitance-voltage profiling is extensively used to study the compensation mechanisms. The optimization leads to the achievement of layers exhibiting low dopant compensation (below 5%) up to high doping levels and resistivity values as low as 0.4 Ohm­ cm. These layers are then implemented on top of active regions grown by MOVPE and lasing is obtained for the first time in hybrid structures exhibiting state-of-the-art electrical characteristics. The threshold voltage is as low as 4.3 V in an index guided structure with 800x2 ¿m² ridge dimension designed for violet emission (¿ = 400 nm). These excellent current-voltage characteristics are achieved owing to the doping profile control in the cladding and contact layers which is confirmed by the low contact resistance value of 5E-4­ cm². Lasing is also demonstrated beyond 500 nm, keeping state-of-the-art electrical characteristics, despite the reduced doping in the cladding layer. These devices also exhibit values for internal optical losses as low as 6 cm¿1. The growth of tunnel junctions is also attempted. Low specific resistance values are demonstrated in ammonia-MBE grown GaN tunnel homojunctions. The absence of hydrogen passivation and the reduced memory effects of MBE are considered to be crucial for the realization of these devices together with the stability of the doping at reduced growth temperatures. n-p-n structures featuring a tunnel junction in series with a p-n junction are then used to spread the current across light-emitting diodes. A device architecture featuring a buried tunnel junction to be used for current injection inmicro-LEDs or vertical cavity surface emitting lasers is also demonstrated and excellent current confinement properties are obtained.

Related material