Substitutional synthesis of sub-nanometer InGaN/GaN quantum wells with high indium content

IG Vasileiadis and L Lymperakis and A Adikimenakis and A Gkotinakos and V Devulapalli and CH Liebscher and M Androulidaki and R Hubner and T Karakostas and A Georgakilas and P Komninou and E Dimakis and GP Dimitrakopulos, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 11, 20606 (2021).

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-99989-0

InGaN/GaN quantum wells (QWs) with sub-nanometer thickness can be employed in short-period superlattices for bandgap engineering of efficient optoelectronic devices, as well as for exploiting topological insulator behavior in III-nitride semiconductors. However, it had been argued that the highest indium content in such ultra-thin QWs is kinetically limited to a maximum of 33%, narrowing down the potential range of applications. Here, it is demonstrated that quasi two- dimensional (quasi-2D) QWs with thickness of one atomic monolayer can be deposited with indium contents far exceeding this limit, under certain growth conditions. Multi-QW heterostructures were grown by plasma- assisted molecular beam epitaxy, and their composition and strain were determined with monolayer-scale spatial resolution using quantitative scanning transmission electron microscopy in combination with atomistic calculations. Key findings such as the self-limited QW thickness and the non-monotonic dependence of the QW composition on the growth temperature under metalrich growth conditions suggest the existence of a substitutional synthesis mechanism, involving the exchange between indium and gallium atoms at surface sites. The highest indium content in this work approached 50%, in agreement with photoluminescence measurements, surpassing by far the previously regarded compositional limit. The proposed synthesis mechanism can guide growth efforts towards binary InN/GaN quasi-2D QWs.

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