Blue light-emitting diodes (LED's), utilizing InGaN-based multi-quantum well (MQW) active regions deposited by organometallic chemical vapor epitaxy (OMVPE), are one of the fundamental building-blocks for current solid-state lighting applications. Studies [1,2] have previously been conducted to explore the optical and physical properties of the active MQW's over a variety of different OMVPE growth conditions. However, the conclusions of these papers have often been contradictory, possibly due to a limited data set or lack of understanding of the fundamental fluid dynamics and gas-phase chemistry that occurs during the deposition process.
Multi-quantum well structures grown over a range of pressures from typical low-pressure production processes at 200 Torr, up to near-atmospheric growth conditions at 700 Torr, have been investigated in this study. At all growth pressures, clear trends of gas-phase chemical reactions are observed for increased gas residence times (lower gas speeds from the injector flange and lower rotation rates) and increased V/III ratios (higher NH3 flows).
Confocal microscopy, excitation-dependent PL (PLE), and time-resolved photo-luminescence (TRPL) have been employed on these MQW structures to investigate the carrier lifetime characteristics. Confocal emission images show spatially-separated bright and dark regions. The bright regions are red-shifted in wavelength relative to the dark regions, suggesting microscopic spatial localization of high indium content regions. As the growth pressure and gas residence times are reduced, a larger difference in band-gap between bright and dark regions, longer lifetimes, and higher average PL intensities can be obtained, indicating that higher optical quality material can be realized. Optimized MQW's grown at high pressure exhibit higher PLE slope intensities and IQE characteristics than lower pressure samples. Results on simple LED structures indicate that the improvement in MQW optical quality at high pressures translates to higher output power at a 110 A/cm2 injection current density.