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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Effect of Thermal Annealing in Ammonia on the Properties of InGaN Nanowires with Different Indium Concentrations

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The utility of an annealing procedure in ammonia ambient is investigated for improving the optical characteristics of InxGa1?xN nanowires (0.07 ≤ x ≤ 0.42) grown on c-Al2O3 using a halide chemical vapor deposition method. Morphological studies using scanning electron microscopy confirm that the nanowire morphology is retained after annealing in ammonia at temperatures up to 800 ?C. However, significant indium etching and composition inhomogeneities are observed for higher indium composition nanowires (x = 0.28, 0.42), as measured by energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and Z-contrast scanning transmission electron microscopy. Structural analyses, using X-ray diffraction and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, indicate that this is a result of the greater thermal instability of higher indium composition nanowires. The effect of these structural changes on the optical quality of InGaN nanowires is examined using steady-state and time-resolved photoluminescence measurements. Annealing in ammonia enhances the integrated photoluminescence intensity of InxGa1?xN nanowires by up to a factor of 4.11 ? 0.03 (for x = 0.42) by increasing the rate of radiative recombination. Fitting of photoluminescence decay curves to a Kohlrausch stretched exponential indicates that this increase is directly related to a larger distribution of recombination rates from composition inhomogeneities caused by annealing. The results demonstrate the role of thermal instability on the improved optical properties of InGaN nanowires annealed in ammonia.

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