Infrared Intersubband Transitions in Non-Polar III-Nitrides
Infrared intersubband absorption of III-nitride materials has been studied rigorously due to its broad potential applications into optoelectronic devices. III-nitrides have advantages of large conduction band offset, large longitudinal-optical phonon energy, and fast intersubband relaxation time. These special characteristics make nitrides promising materials for intersubband devices in the near-infrared range. However, the existence of challenges from these materials delays the progress towards the realization of high performance nitride intersubband devices. In this document, we discuss the challenges of III-nitrides and our efforts towards high intersubband transitions strength of different nitrides, in particular non-polar m-plane AlGaN/GaN, non-polar m-plane near strain-balanced (In)AlGaN/InGaN, and polar lattice-matched InAlN/GaN. Samples are characterized by multiple methods including atomic force microscopy, high-resolution x-ray diffraction, high-resolution (scanning) transmission electron microscopy, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy.
Polar c-plane AlGaN/GaN exhibits good agreement between experimental and predicted results for the intersubband transition energy. However, the lattice strain between layers caused by the lattice mismatch between materials leads to a large number of defects, affecting the vertical transport and resulting in low-quality devices. Lattice-matched InAlN/GaN was suggested as an alternative to eliminate this lattice strain, thus providing a better quality material for devices. We discuss the challenges of growing homogeneous InAlN alloys that persist after exploring a wide range of growth conditions. Additionally, the non-polar mplane AlGaN/GaN is also being investigated. Low Al-composition m-plane AlGaN/GaN experimental intersubband absorption shows good agreement with the theoretical results. As the Al composition exceeds 60%, however, the m-plane AlGaN alloy becomes kinetically unstable during plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy growth, resulting in unique nanostructures that affect the intersubband transition energy and linewidth. For the first time, we reported the ISBA energy of near strain-balanced non-polar m-plane (In)AlGaN/InGaN heterostructures in the mid-infrared range with narrow linewidths comparable to tdth-half-max published in the literature for non-polar m-plane AlGaN/GaN superlattices. Additionally, we propose polar near lattice-matched Sc0.15Al0.85N/GaN as an alternative to c-plane lattice-matched InAlN/GaN.