Effects of Excess Carriers on Charged Defect Concentrations in Wide Bandgap Semiconductors

Kirstin Alberi, Michael Scarpulla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus Citations


Unintentional doping and doping limits in semiconductors are typically caused by compensating defects with low formation energies. Since the formation enthalpy of a charged defect depends linearly on the Fermi level, doping limits can be especially pronounced in wide bandgap semiconductors where the Fermi level can vary substantially. Introduction of non-equilibrium carrier concentrations during growth or processing alters the chemical potentials of band carriers and allows populations of charged defects to be modified in ways impossible at thermal equilibrium. We demonstrate that in the presence of excess carriers, the rates of carrier capture and emission involving a defect charge transition level determine the admixture of electron and hole quasi-Fermi levels involved in the formation enthalpy of non-zero charge defect states. To understand the range of possible responses, we investigate the behavior of a single donor-like defect as functions of extrinsic doping and charge transition level energy. We find that that excess carriers will increase the formation enthalpy of compensating defects for most values of the charge transition level in the bandgap. Thus, it may be possible to use non-equilibrium carrier concentrations to overcome limitations on doping imposed by native defects. Cases also exist in which the concentration of defects with the same charge polarity as the majority dopant is either left unchanged or actually increases. This surprising effect arises when emission rates are suppressed relative to the capture rates and is most pronounced in wide bandgap semiconductors. We provide guidelines for carrying out experimental tests of this model.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 185702
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number18
StatePublished - 14 May 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Author(s).

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-71463


  • band gap
  • band structure
  • crystal defects
  • doping
  • epitaxy
  • semiconductors
  • surface collisions
  • thermodynamic functions
  • thermodynamics


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