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Development of Room Temperature Excitonic Lasing From ZnO and MgZnO Thin Film Based Metal-Semiconductor-Metal Devices

  • Author(s): Suja, Mohammad Zahir Uddin
  • Advisor(s): Liu, Jianlin
  • et al.

Room temperature excitonic lasing is demonstrated and developed by utilizing metal-semiconductor-metal devices based on ZnO and MgZnO materials. At first, Cu-doped p-type ZnO films are grown on c-sapphire substrates by plasma-assisted molecular beam epitaxy. Photoluminescence (PL) experiments reveal a shallow acceptor state at 0.15 eV above the valence band edge. Hall effect results indicate that a growth condition window is found for the formation of p-type ZnO thin films and the best conductivity is achieved with a high hole concentration of 1.54×1018 cm-3, a low resistivity of 0.6 Ω cm and a moderate mobility of 6.65 cm2 V-1 s-1 at room temperature. Metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) capacitor devices have been fabricated on the Cu-doped ZnO films and the characteristics of capacitance-voltage measurements demonstrate that the Cu-doped ZnO thin films under proper growth conditions are p-type. Seebeck measurements on these Cu-doped ZnO samples lead to positive Seebeck coefficients and further confirm the p-type conductivity. Other measurements such as XRD, XPS, Raman and absorption are also performed to elucidate the structural and optical characteristics of the Cu-doped p-type ZnO films. The p-type conductivity is explained to originate from Cu substitution of Zn with a valency of +1 state. However, all p-type samples are converted to n-type over time, which is mostly due to the carrier compensation from extrinsic defects of ZnO.

To overcome the stability issue of p-type ZnO film, alternate devices other than p-n junction has been developed. Electrically driven plasmon-exciton coupled random lasing is demonstrated by incorporating Ag nanoparticles on Cu-doped ZnO metal-semiconductor-metal (MSM) devices. Both photoluminescence and electroluminescence studies show that emission efficiencies have been enhanced significantly due to coupling between ZnO excitons and Ag surface plasmons. With the incorporation of Ag nanoparticles on ZnO MSM structures, internal quantum efficiency up to 6 times is demonstrated. Threshold current for lasing is decreased by as much as 30% while the output power is increased up to 350% at an injection current of 40 mA. A numerical simulation study reveals that hole carriers are generated in the ZnO MSM devices from impact ionization processes for subsequent plasmon-exciton coupled lasing. Our results suggest that plasmon-enhanced ZnO MSM random lasers can become a competitive candidate of efficient ultraviolet light sources.

Semiconductor lasers in the deep ultraviolet (UV) range have numerous potential applications ranging from water purification and medical diagnosis to high-density data storage and flexible displays. Nevertheless, very little success was achieved in the realization of electrically driven deep UV semiconductor lasers to date. In this thesis, we report the fabrication and characterization of deep UV MgZnO semiconductor lasers. These lasers are operated with continuous current mode at room temperature and the shortest wavelength reaches 284 nm. The wide bandgap MgZnO thin films with various Mg mole fractions were grown on c-sapphire substrate using radio-frequency plasma assisted molecular beam epitaxy. Metal-semiconductor-metal (MSM) random laser devices were fabricated using lithography and metallization processes. Besides the demonstration of scalable emission wavelength, very low threshold current densities of 29~33 A/cm2 are achieved. Numerical modeling reveals that impact ionization process is responsible for the generation of hole carriers in the MgZnO MSM devices. The interaction of electrons and holes leads to radiative excitonic recombination and subsequent coherent random lasing.

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