Carrier dynamics at trench defects in InGaN/GaN quantum wells revealed by time-resolved cathodoluminescence

Kusch, Gunnar and Comish, Ella J. and Loeto, Kagiso and Hammersley, Simon and Kappers, Menno J. and Dawson, Phil and Oliver, Rachel A. and Massabuau, Fabien C-P. (2021) Carrier dynamics at trench defects in InGaN/GaN quantum wells revealed by time-resolved cathodoluminescence. Nanoscale, 14 (2). pp. 402-409. ISSN 2040-3372 (

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Time-resolved cathodoluminescence offers new possibilities for the study of semiconductor nanostructures – including defects. The versatile combination of time, spatial, and spectral resolution of the technique can provide new insights into the physics of carrier recombination at the nanoscale. Here, we used power-dependent cathodoluminescence and temperature-dependent time-resolved cathodoluminescence to study the carrier dynamics at trench defects in InGaN quantum wells – a defect commonly found in III-Nitride structures. The measurements show that the emission properties of trench defects closely relate to the depth of the related basal plane stacking fault within the quantum well stack. The study of the variation of carrier decay time with detection energy across the emission spectrum provides strong evidence supporting the hypothesis that strain relaxation of the quantum wells enclosed within the trench promotes efficient radiative recombination even in the presence of an increased indium content. This result shines light on previously reported peculiar emission properties of the defect, and illustrates the use of cathodoluminescence as a powerful adaptable tool for the study of defects in semiconductors.