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III-Nitride Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers: Growth, Fabrication, and Design of Dual Dielectric DBR Nonpolar VCSELs


Vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) have a long history of development in GaAs-based and InP-based systems, however III-nitride VCSELs research is still in its infancy. Yet, over the past several years we have made dramatic improvements in the lasing characteristics of these highly complex devices. Specifically, we have reduced the threshold current density from ~100 kA/cm2 to ~3 kA/cm2, while simultaneously increasing the output power from ~10 µW to ~550 µW. These developments have primarily come about by focusing on the aperture design and intracavity contact design for flip-chip dual dielectric DBR III-nitride VCSELs. We have carried out a number of studies developing an Al ion implanted aperture (IIA) and photoelectrochemically etched aperture (PECA), while simultaneously improving the quality of tin-doped indium oxide (ITO) intracavity contacts, and demonstrating the first III-nitride VCSEL with an n-GaN tunnel junction intracavity contact. Beyond these most notable research fronts, we have analyzed numerous other parameters, including epitaxial growth, flip-chip bonding, substrate removal, and more, bringing further improvement to III-nitride VCSEL performance and yield. This thesis aims to give a comprehensive discussion of the relevant underlying concepts for nonpolar VCSELs, while detailing our specific experimental advances. In Section 1, we give an overview of the applications of VCSELs generally, before describing some of the potential applications for III-nitride VCSELs. This is followed by a summary of the different material systems used to fabricate VCSELs, before going into detail on the basic design principles for developing III-nitride VCSELs. In Section 2, we outline the basic process and geometry for fabricating flip-chip nonpolar VCSELs with different aperture and intracavity contact designs. Finally, in Section 3 and 4, we delve into the experimental results achieved in the last several years, beginning with a discussion on the epitaxial growth developments. In Section 4, we discuss the most noteworthy accomplishments related to the nonpolar VCSELs structural design, such as different aperture and intracavity contact developments. Overall, this thesis is focused on the nonpolar VCSEL, however our hope is that many of the underlying insights will be of great use for the III-nitride VCSELs community as a whole. Throughout this report, we have taken great effort to highlight the future research fronts that would advance the field of III-nitride VCSELs generally, with the goal of illuminating the path forward for achieving efficient CW operating III-nitride VCSELs.

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