Improving Luminescence Response in ZnGeN2/GaN Superlattices: Defect Reduction Through Composition Control: Article No. 375106

Moira Miller, David Diercks, M. Tellekamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Color-mixed (cm) light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are theoretically the most efficient white light emitters, projected to improve white light luminous efficacy by 34% compared to incumbent phosphor converted LEDs. Since white light technology is pervasive and essential, small improvements in LED technology can result in energy savings. However, cm-LEDs are not yet realized due to poor efficacy in green and amber emitting materials, a spectral region colloquially referred to as the Green Gap. ZnGeN2 is nearly isostructural and closely lattice-matched to GaN and can be heteroepitaxially integrated with existing GaN devices; ZnGeN2/GaN hybrid structures are theorized to emit green (~530 nn) light with a spontaneous emission rate 4.6-4.9 times higher than traditional InGaN LEDs when incorporated into III-N LED structures. In this report we demonstrate the molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) growth of GaN and ZnGeN2 superlattices, an important step towards realizing multiple quantum well structures required for efficient LEDs. Elemental analysis, including atom probe tomography, shows that Ga and Ge are observed in both ZnGeN2 and GaN layers, degrading the structural uniformity. The lack of elemental abruptness also leads to increased defect luminescence and reabsorption of band edge luminescence. The source of unintentional Ga distributed throughout the ZnGeN2 layers was identified as excess flux escaping from around the closed MBE shutter. The source of unintentional Ge, which tended to incorporate as a single delta-doped layer in GaN, was identified as Ge riding along the cyclical metal-rich Ga adlayer used for high quality GaN, incorporating during subsequent nitrogen-rich growth step. Modifying the growth strategy results in improved structural quality, elemental abruptness, and luminescence response. This realization of structurally and elementally abrupt interfaces demonstrates the potential of heteroepitaxially integrated binary and ternary nitrides for energy-relevant devices.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number37
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-89158


  • GaN
  • LEDs
  • MBE
  • superlattice
  • ZnGeN2


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