Compositional ordering is observed in essentially all IIIN semiconductor alloys. The mechanism leading to the specific ordered structures formed is only now beginning to be understood. It is intimately related to the atomic-scale physical processes occurring on the surface during epitaxial growth, specifically surface reconstruction and the attachment of atoms at steps. This paper will emphasize the use of surface analytic techniques to better understand the ordering processes during organometallic vapor phase epitaxial growth of GalnP. Surface photo absorption has been used to determine, for the first time, that the surface reconstruction is (2×4)-like during growth of GalnP with Cu-Pt ordering. By increasing the growth temperature and/or decreasing the V/Ill ratio the concentration of phosphorus dimers characteristic of the (2×4) structure is observed to decrease in tandem with a decrease in the degree of order measured in the epitaxial layers. This suggests that formation of the (2×4) reconstruction is necessary for formation of the Cu-Pt ordered structure.
Atomic force microscopy was used to examine the step structure. For exactly (001)-oriented substrates, growth at low V/Ill ratios produces islands surrounded by single monolayer steps. Increasing the V/Ill ratio leads to the formation of bilayer steps approximately 6 Å high. A similar change in the structure of steps is observed in the vicinal regions for substrates misoriented to produce  steps. This phenomenon is interpreted in terms of the stabilization, at high V/Ill ratios, of the (2×2) reconstruction on the (111)B regions of the bilayer steps. This may also have an effect on formation of the Cu-Pt ordered structure.
By changing the substrate temperature or the input partial pressure of the phosphorus precursor, the degree of order and, hence, the bandgap energy of GalnP, can be modulated during growth. This has allowed the production of a variety of single and double heterostructures. The heterostructures produced by changing the temperature from 740 to 620°C and from 620 to 520°C are abrupt. The heterostructures formed by changing the phosphine flow rate are not. The ordered structure in the lower layer persists into the upper layer. This may be an indication of the importance of the step structure.