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Photoluminescence spectroscopy of erbium implanted gallium nitride

Myo Thaik and U. Hömmericha)
Department of Physics, Research Center for Optical Physics, Hampton University, Hampton,
Virginia 23668
R. N. Schwartz and R. G. Wilson
Hughes Research Laboratories, Malibu, California 90265
J. M. Zavada
U.S. Army Research Office, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709
~Received 13 June 1997; accepted for publication 4 September 1997!
Results of a photoluminescence ~PL! and photoluminescence excitation ~PLE! study of Er implanted
GaN are presented. Upon optical excitation at 325 and 488 nm, we observed strong 1.54 mm
Er31 PL which remained temperature stable from 15 to 550 K. At 550 K, the integrated PL intensity
decreased by ;10% for above gap excitation (l ex5325 nm) and ;50% for below gap excitation
(l ex5488 nm) relative to its value at 15 K. The excellent temperature stability makes GaN:Er very
attractive for high temperature optoelectronic device applications. PLE measurements were
conducted to gain insight into the Er31 excitation mechanisms in the GaN host. The PLE results
show that Er31 can be excited continuously over a broad wavelength region spanning from 425 to
680 nm. In addition, sharp PLE features were observed at approximately 495, 525, 553, 651, and
980 nm. The PLE spectrum suggests that optically active Er31 ions can be excited either through
carrier-mediated processes involving defects in the host or through resonant pumping into Er31 4 f
energy levels. With respect to these two excitation schemes, distinct Er31 PL properties were
observed for resonant and off-resonant Er31 excitation indicating the presence of different subsets
of Er31 ions in GaN. © 1997 American Institute of Physics. @S0003-6951~97!01744-0#

Rare earth doped semiconductors have received world other groups.10–14 A systematic study by Torvik et al.13
wide attention because of possible applications in showed that similar to Er31 doped in narrow gap host, oxy-
optoelectronics.1,2 These systems exhibit a temperature gen co-implantation plays an important role in the optical
stable luminescence wavelength which is nearly independent activation of Er31 ions in GaN. These authors also presented
of the specific semiconductor host. The continuing interest in the first demonstration of cathodoluminescence11 and
rare earth doped semiconductors arises from the prospect of electroluminescence12 from Er, O implanted GaN. The exact
developing novel electroluminescence devices which com- nature of the Er luminescence center and its excitation
bine the electronic properties of semiconductors with the mechanisms in the GaN host, however, have not yet been
unique luminescence features of rare earth ions.1–3 fully explored. In this article, we present new spectroscopic
A significant amount of work has been devoted to the results of Er implanted GaN including high temperature PL
study of Er doped semiconductors because Er31 exhibits lu-
intensity measurements and photoluminescence excitation
minescence at 1.54 mm which overlaps the minimum loss
studies ~PLE!. Our results demonstrate that the 1.54 mm
region of silica-based fibers used in optical communications.
Er31 PL from Er implanted GaN is extremely stable up to
The main problems limiting the performance of current Er
550 K ~temperature limit of our heating device!. Moreover,
doped semiconductor devices are poor luminescence effi-
our PLE studies reveal that Er31 can be excited indirectly
ciency and low incorporation of optically active Er31 ions.
Recent studies have shown that the Er31 luminescence inten- through carrier-mediated processes or directly through intra-
sity at room temperature is strongly related to the band gap 4 f Er31 transitions. Similar PLE results have been recently
energy of the semiconductor host. It was found that semicon- reported by us for Er: AlN doped during ~MOMBE! growth9
ductors with larger band gap, exhibit less temperature and seem to be an inherent characteristic of Er doped III-
quenching of Er31 luminescence.4 Consequently, research nitride semiconductors.
efforts have shifted towards studying Er31 doped into wide The 1-mm-thick GaN film was grown on a sapphire sub-
gap semiconductors.2–6 strate using reactive ion-beam molecular beam epitaxy
We are currently engaged in a comprehensive study of ~MBE!.7 Er was implanted at an energy of 300 keV and a
the optical properties of Er31 doped III-nitride fluence of 231014 cm22. Oxygen was co-implanted at an
semiconductors.7–9 Because of their wide band gap, III- energy of 40 keV and a fluence of 1015 cm22. The 40 keV
nitride semiconductors are expected to be ideal host for Er31 oxygen energy was chosen to overlap the oxygen and erbium
ions to emit strong 1.54 mm photoluminescence ~PL!. Re- implantation profiles. After implantation the sample was an-
sults on the observation of 1.54 mm photoluminescence of Er nealed at ;650 °C for approximately 60 mins. As previous
implanted GaN have been reported by Wilson et al.7 and secondary ion mass spectroscopy ~SIMS! data have shown,
most of the Er is located within 200 nm of the sample sur-
a!
Corresponding author. Electronic mail: hommeric@gprc.hamptonu.edu face and the Er depth distribution does not change signifi-

Appl. Phys. Lett. 71 (18), 3 November 1997 0003-6951/97/71(18)/2641/3/$10.00 © 1997 American Institute of Physics 2641
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FIG. 1. Photoluminescence spectra at 300 and 550 K from Er implanted
GaN ~a! for above ~325 nm! band gap excitation, ~b! for below ~488 nm!
band gap excitation. FIG. 2. Temperature dependence of the integrated Er31 PL intensity for
above and below gap excitation. For above gap excitation the integrated PL
intensity changed only by 10% for the temperature range 15–550 K.
cantly with annealing up to 900 °C.7 Integrated PL intensity
measurements were carried out using either the 325 nm line
~10 mW! of a HeCd laser or the 488 nm line ~50 mW! of an further evidence that thermal quenching of Er31-related PL is
argon ion laser. The pump beam diameter was ;1 mm. The less in wide gap semiconductors.4–7 To our knowledge, our
presented PL spectra are not corrected for the system re- GaN:Er sample exhibits the weakest PL temperature quench-
sponse of the luminescence setup. For time-resolved PL and ing observed from any Er31 doped III-V semiconductor to
PLE measurements, an optical parametric oscillator ~Surelite date, even less than Er31 doped SiC.6 It is interesting to note
OPO, Continuum! pumped by a Q-switched Nd:YAG laser that above and below excitation lead to slightly different
~5–10 ns pulses! was used as excitation source. The resolu- Er31 PL spectra and PL temperature dependencies. The PL
tion in the PLE studies was limited by the bandwidth of the spectrum for above gap excitation shows additional features
OPO system which changed from ;40 cm21 at 425 nm to located at 1620 nm. This indicates the existence of different
;200 cm21 at 680 nm. In the near infrared region subsets of Er31 ions with distinct excitation and de-excitation
(;1000 nm) the laser linewidth was ;60 cm21. The OPO schemes.14
output power was monitored during the PLE studies using a In order to gain more insight in the incorporation of Er31
pyroelectric power meter to normalize the PLE signal. The ions in GaN as well as their excitation mechanisms, we per-
photoluminescence was dispersed with a single grating 1 m formed PLE measurements at room temperature. The PLE
monochromator and detected with a liquid nitrogen ~LN! spectrum of Er implanted GaN is depicted in Fig. 3. The
cooled Ge detector ~response time of 0.5–1 ms!. A 850 nm Er31 luminescence was monitored at 1.535 mm while vary-
long-pass filter was placed in front of the entrance slit of the
monochromator to minimize stray laser light. A lock-in tech-
nique ~cw PL experiments! or a boxcar averager ~pulsed PL
experiments! was used to process the data. Temperature de-
pendent PL measurements were conducted using a closed-
cycle helium refrigerator for the range from 15 to 300 K.
Above 300 K, a home-made heating element was employed
which had a temperature accuracy of 65 °C.
Figure 1 shows Er31 PL spectra from Er implanted GaN
at 300 and 550 K excited above ~325 nm! and below ~488
nm! the band gap (;3.4 eV) of GaN. Above gap excitation
is important for future GaN:Er devices because it simulates
electron-hole pair mediated pumping occurring in forward
biased p – n junctions. For both excitation wavelengths we
observed strong Er31 emission peaking at ;1.535 m m and a
linewidth of 50 nm full width half maximum ~FWHM!. The
large linewidth suggests that Er31 ions occupy a range of
sites and the PL spectra are inhomogeneously
broadened.10–14 The temperature dependent integrated
Er31 PL intensity up to 550 K is depicted in Fig. 2. At 550 FIG. 3. Photoluminescence excitation spectrum of Er implanted GaN. The
Er31 PL was monitored at 1.535 mm. The broad PLE band spanning from
K, the integrated intensity decreased relative to its value at 425 to 680 nm is attributed to carrier-mediated Er31 excitation. The sharp
15 K by only ;10% for above gap excitation and by ;50% features at 495, 525, 553, 651, and 980 nm are due to resonant intra-4 f Er31
for below gap excitation, respectively. These results provide excitation.

2642 Appl. Phys. Lett., Vol. 71, No. 18, 3 November 1997 Thaik et al.
Downloaded 07 Jun 2001 to 169.226.115.84. Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright, see http://ojps.aip.org/aplo/aplcr.jsp
results reported for Er implanted in GaN ~MOCVD! using
resonant excitation at 983 nm and above gap excitation at
351.1 nm.13
In summary, results of a high temperature photolumines-
cence and photoluminescence excitation study of Er im-
planted GaN are presented. Strong Er31 PL at 1.535 mm was
observed for below and above gap excitation. The integrated
Er31 PL intensity remained nearly constant up to 550 K. It
was found that the Er31 PL spectra, as well as the PL
quenching behavior, changed with excitation wavelength, in-
dicating the existence of different classes of Er31 ions with
distinct excitation and de-excitation schemes. This observa-
tion was further supported by PLE measurements which
showed that 1.535 mm Er31 PL can be excited either through
direct optical excitation of intra-4 f Er31 levels or by an in-
direct carrier-mediated process. Further studies are currently
being undertaken to elucidate the nature of the different Er31
sites in GaN in terms of PL efficiency, saturation behavior,
as well as excitation schemes. Gaining deeper insight into
the incorporation and excitation mechanisms of optically ac-
tive Er31 ions will be crucial in the advancement of Er doped
III-nitride electroluminescence devices.
FIG. 4. Room temperature PL spectra excited resonant ~525 and 651 nm! The authors from Hampton University acknowledge fi-
and off-resonant ~440, 488, and 570 nm! with an intra-4 f Er31 transition.
nancial support by NASA through Grant No. NCC-1-251
Different spectra are observed for direct and indirect Er31 excitation which
indicates the existence of distinct subsets of Er31 ions. and the Army Research Office through Grant No. DAAH04-
96-1-0089.

ing the excitation wavelength from 425 to 1020 nm. Striking
features of the PLE spectrum are a broad band and sharp 1
See Rare Earth Doped Semiconductors, edited by G. S. Pomrenke, P. B.
peaks located at 495, 525, 553, 651, and 980 nm. These Klein, and D. W. Lange, Mater. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc. ~MRS, Pittsburgh,
sharp peaks coincide with the following Er31 intra-4 f tran- PA 1993!, Vol. 301.
2
sitions: 4
I 15/2→ 4 F 7/2 , 4
I 15/2→ 2 H 11/2 , 4
I 15/2→ 4 S 3/2 , See Rare Earth doped Semiconductors II, edited by S. Coffa, A. Polman,
and R. N. Schwartz, Mater. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc. ~MRS, Pittsburgh, PA,
4
I 15/2→ F 9/2 , and I 15/2→ I 11/2 , respectively, and are as-
4 4 4
1996!, Vol. 422.
signed to resonant Er31 excitation. The broadband PLE span- 3
J. M. Zavada and D. Zhang, Solid-State Electron. 38, 1285 ~1995!.
ning from 425 to 680 nm is attributed to Er31 excitation 4
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5
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R. G. Wilson, R. N. Schwartz, C. R. Abernathy, S. J. Pearton, N. New-
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8
J. D. MacKenzie, C. R. Abernathy, S. J. Pearton, U. Hömmerich, X. Wu,
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during MOMBE growth. Preliminary results indicate that 2083 ~1996!.
9
this sample also shows an overlap of broadband carrier- X. Wu, U. Hömmerich, J. D. MacKenzie, C. R. Abernathy, S. J. Pearton,
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Figure 4 shows PL spectra of GaN:Er excited at wave- 10
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lengths resonant and off-resonant with an intra-4 f Er31 tran- Pomrenke, Mater. Res. Soc. Symp. Proc. 422, 69 ~1996!.
11
sition. It can be noted, that the Er31 PL spectra are signifi- C. H. Qui, M. W. Leksono, J. I. Pankove, J. T. Torvik, R. J. Feuerstein,
and F. Namavar, Appl. Phys. Lett. 66, 562 ~1995!.
cantly different for direct and indirect below gap excitation 12
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which provides further support for the existence of distinct Appl. Phys. Lett. 69, 2098 ~1996!.
classes of Er31 ions. Furthermore, it was observed that the 13
J. T. Torvik, C. H. Qui, R. J. Feuerstein, J. I. Pankove, and F. Namavar, J.
Er31 PL, excited resonantly with an Er31 transition, is longer Appl. Phys. 81, 6343 ~1997!.
14
S. Kim, S. J. Rhee, D. A. Turnbull, E. E. Reuter, X. Li, J. J. Coleman, and
lived (;3.0 ms) than that excited using off-resonant excita- S. G. Bishop, Appl. Phys. Lett. 71, 231 ~1997!.
tion (;2.5 ms). This observation is consistent with recent 15
C. H. Qui and J. I. Pankove, Appl. Phys. Lett. 70, 1983 ~1997!.

Appl. Phys. Lett., Vol. 71, No. 18, 3 November 1997 Thaik et al. 2643
Downloaded 07 Jun 2001 to 169.226.115.84. Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright, see http://ojps.aip.org/aplo/aplcr.jsp