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Abstract

Blue light-emitting diodes based on III-nitride semiconductors are nowadays widely used for solid-state lighting. They exhibit impressive figures of merit like an internal quantum efficiency close to 100%. This value is intriguing when considering the high dislocation density running throughout the InGaN/GaN quantum well (QW) active region. This striking feature is currently ascribed to carrier localization occurring in the InGaN alloy, which hinders their diffusion toward dislocations. However, it was recently reported that another source of defects, disconnected from dislocations, dramatically decreases the radiative efficiency of InGaN/GaN QWs. Those defects, present at the surface, are usually trapped in an InGaN underlayer (UL), which is grown before the QW active region. To get insight into the trapping mechanism, we varied the UL thickness, In content, and materials system (InGaN or InAlN) and studied the photoluminescence decay time at 300 K of a single InGaN/GaN QW. Our data demonstrate that defects are incorporated proportionally to the indium content in the UL. In addition, we show that those defects are created during the high-temperature growth of GaN and that they segregate at the surface even at low-temperature. Eventually, we propose an intrinsic origin for these surface defects. (C) 2018 Author(s).

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