Cathodoluminescence and TEM investigations of structural and optical properties of AlGaN on epitaxial laterally overgrown AlN/sapphire templates
Surface steps as high as 15 nm on up to 10 μm thick AlN layers grown on patterned AlN/sapphire templates play a major role for the structural and optical properties of AlxGa1−xN layers with x ≥ 0.5 grown subsequently by metalorganic vapour phase epitaxy. The higher the Ga content in these layers is, the stronger is the influence of the surface morphology on their properties. For x = 0.5 not only periodic inhomogeneities in the Al content due to growth of Ga-rich facets are observed by cathodoluminescence, but these facets give rise to additional dislocation formation as discovered by annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy. For AlxGa1−xN layers with x = 0.8 the difference in Al content between facets and surrounding material is much smaller. Therefore, the threading dislocation density (TDD) is only defined by the TDD in the underlying epitaxially laterally overgrown (ELO) AlN layer. This way high quality Al0.8Ga0.2N with a thickness up to 1.5 μm and a TDD ≤ 5x108 cm−2 was obtained.