APPLIED PHYSICS LETTERS 95, 011116 2009

Advantages of blue InGaN multiple-quantum well light-emitting diodes with InGaN barriers
Yen-Kuang Kuo,1,a Jih-Yuan Chang,1 Miao-Chan Tsai,2 and Sheng-Horng Yen3
1 2

Department of Physics, National Changhua University of Education, Changhua 500, Taiwan Institute of Photonics, National Changhua University of Education, Changhua 500, Taiwan 3 R&D Division, Epistar Co., Ltd., Science-based Industrial Park, Hsinchu 300, Taiwan

Received 18 April 2009; accepted 17 June 2009; published online 10 July 2009 The advantages of blue InGaN light-emitting diodes LEDs with InGaN barriers are studied. The L-I curves, carrier concentrations in the quantum wells, energy band diagrams, and internal quantum efficiency are investigated. The simulation results show that the InGaN/InGaN LED has better performance over its conventional InGaN/GaN counterpart due to the enhancement of electron confinement, the reduced polarization effect between the barrier and well, and the lower potential barrier height for the holes to transport in the active region. The simulation results also suggest that the efficiency droop is markedly improved when the traditional GaN barriers are replaced by InGaN barriers. © 2009 American Institute of Physics. DOI: 10.1063/1.3176406 The quantum efficiency QE of conventional InGaN/ GaN multiquantum well MQW light-emitting diodes LEDs reaches its peak at low current density and monotonically decreases with further increasing drive current.1–4 This phenomenon, commonly referred to as efficiency droop, is a critical restriction for the usage of LEDs in high power applications. Many suggestions to its mechanism have been reported, such as the Auger recombination,5 electron leakage,2,3,6,7 carrier injection efficiency,6–8 polarization field,2,3 and filling of localized states.9 Nevertheless, the physical origin of efficiency droop remains debatable and, hence, an overall solution is still a lack. For the exploration of efficiency droop in blue InGaN LEDs, the carrier injection and distribution in the active region may be a key issue. It has been reported that only the last QW next to the p-type region contributes to radiative recombination in the InGaN MQW LEDs.8,10 This is because that holes in GaN based materials have a relatively high effective mass and therefore a very low mobility. Moreover, the electron blocking layer EBL is considered to act as a potential barrier also for holes. Under this circumstance, it is difficult for holes to inject into the active region and transport in the active region. Thus, a large amount of holes accumulate in the last QW next to the p-type region. As for the electrons, due to the opposite characters to holes and the insufficient blocking efficiency of EBL under polarization fields, they can transport easily in the active region and even overflow across the EBL to the p-type region. As a result, nonuniform distribution of carriers is expected, which explains why not every QW contributes to radiative recombination. In this paper, the optical and electrical properties of conventional InGaN/GaN MQW LEDs and new designed InGaN/InGaN MQW LEDs are investigated numerically with the APSYS simulation program, which was developed by the Crosslight Software Inc.11 The original blue InGaN LED used as a reference was grown on a c-plane sapphire substrate, followed by a 50-nm-thick undoped GaN layer, and a
a

4.5- m-thick n-GaN layer n-doping= 5 1018 cm−3 . The active region consisted of five 2-nm-thick In0.21Ga0.79N QWs, separated by six 15-nm-thick GaN barriers. On top of the active region was a 20-nm-thick p-Al0.15Ga0.85N EBL and a 0.5- m-thick p-GaN cap layer p-doping= 1.2 1018 cm−3 . The device geometry was designed with a rectangular shape of 300 300 m2. The internal absorption within the LED device is assumed to be 500 m−1 and the operating temperature is assumed to be 300 K. To simplify the simulation, the light extraction efficiency is assumed to be 0.78. Other material parameters of the semiconductors used in the simulation can be found in Ref. 12. The surface charges at the interfaces are calculated by the methods developed by Fiorentini et al.13 The experimental and simulated light-current-voltage L-I-V performance curves of the original InGaN/GaN structure are plotted in Fig. 1 a , which shows good agreement between the experimental data and our simulations. The distribution of carrier concentrations near the active region of the original InGaN/GaN structure at an injection current of 150 mA is shown in Fig. 1 b . It indicates that both electrons and holes distributions are quite nonuniform among QWs; namely, most carriers concentrate on the last QW next to the p-type region. There also exists a severe electron leakage in this LED structure.

Electronic mail: ykuo@cc.ncue.edu.tw. Tel.: 886-4/721-1153.

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FIG. 1. Color online a Experimental and simulated L-I-V performance curves of original InGaN/GaN structure. b Distribution of carrier concentrations of original InGaN/GaN structure at 150 mA gray regions represent the location of QWs . © 2009 American Institute of Physics

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Author complimentary copy. Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright, see http://apl.aip.org/apl/copyright.jsp

Moreover. Therefore. As shown in Figs. In their article. Figure 2 shows the energy band diagram of the original InGaN/GaN structure and its local enlargements at 150 mA. 2. this also increases the difficulty for holes to transport in valence band. Color online Carrier concentrations of InGaN/InGaN structure near active region at 150 mA. Author complimentary copy. however. i.aip. the effective barrier height between the last barrier and EBL is increased dramatically due to the lower conduction band energy of InGaN barrier. which results in poor overlap between the two wave functions. 011116 2009 FIG. FIG. with an indium composition of 10% in the InGaN barriers. the InGaN barriers may help the holes to transport in the QW region more easily because of the lower barrier height in valence band. Color online a Energy band diagram of original InGaN/GaN structure at 150 mA. is observed. the better electron confinement. This in turn results in a large electron leakage current. b Enlarged drawing of the conduction band near EBL. replacing the traditional GaN barrier with a lower band gap InGaN barrier is beneficial for enhancing the electron confinement without the price of blocking the holes. the electron and hole wave functions separate partially.011116-2 Kuo et al.jsp . Besides. 95. b Enlarged drawing of the conduction band near EBL. sloped triangular barriers and wells. The sloped triangular barriers cause the conduction band edge of barriers to be higher than the conduction band of EBL. which is also beneficial for reducing the electron current leakage. The electron blocking efficiency of EBL is influenced by the thickness and alumi- num composition. as well as the reduction of radiative recombination rate and internal QE IQE . In order to improve the above shortcomings. insufficient electron blocking efficiency and thereby serious electron current leakage can be expected in this structure. For the above phenomenon. 2 b .14 proposed to use the polarization-matched InGaN/InGaN MQW structure to reduce the potential difference of conduction band between the n-side and p-side. However. It indicates that both electron and hole distributions in the QWs are more uniform than those of the InGaN/GaN structure. Figure 4 shows the carrier concentrations of InGaN/ InGaN structure near the active region at 150 mA.1Ga0. on the other hand. which in turn results in less QCSE and better light emission efficiency. 3 c . Therefore. Color online a Energy band diagram of proposed InGaN LED structure with In0. and to improve the device performance. Appl. Note that the conduction band of EBL is also deformed by polarization fields. c Enlarged drawing near last QW. Xu et al. the thicker EBL and the higher aluminum composition in AlGaN layer. Due to the quantum confined Stark effect QCSE . the experimental data do not show much decrease of forward voltage under the same injection current that can diminish the above potential difference for the InGaN/InGaN MQW LEDs. Lett. is proposed. 3 a and 3 b .e. because of the better match of lattice constants between the InGaN barrier and InGaN well. 4. In a recent paper. a severe situation of bend bending. Thus. there might exist other mechanisms which are responsible for the improvement of LED performance. indicating the effectiveness of EBL in the InGaN/InGaN structure. The two peaks in the curve of electron concentration in the lefthand side and right-hand side of QW region represent the massive electrons accumulating in the first and last barriers FIG.. an InGaN/ InGaN MQW structure. c Enlarged drawing near last QW. In these plots. Park and co-workers2. the band bending situation is less severe. Note also that the electron leakage current is minimal. as shown in Fig.org/apl/copyright.3 reported that the polarization field induced sloped triangular barriers will hinder the transportation of electrons and cause the conduction band on the n-side to be higher than that on the p-side. Phys.7 Figure 2 c shows the enlarged band diagram of the last QW and the electron and hole wave functions. Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright. see http://apl.9N barriers at 150 mA. 3. as shown in Fig.

org/apl/copyright. Lett. R. M. Zakheim. Appl. Munkholm. M. Appl. Canada http:// www. the carriers injection is Author complimentary copy. Rozhansky and D. J. Schubert. Kim.-R. Martin. F. R. Kim.-H. Wang. 1204 2002 .. Lett. Phys. Kim. Chung. 011116 2009 enhanced. Schubert. the performance of the InGaN/InGaN LED is expected to be superior to the conventional InGaN/GaN LED. and Y. Zakheim.crosslight. Schubert. 9 A. S. Lett. J. Kern. 2160 2006 . 141101 2007 . N. D. Lee. Lett. D. Huang. C. Phys. G. Lett. E. Phys. Mihopoulos. H. H. A. Appl. Appl. G. Q. as indicated in Fig. A. Steigerwald. N. F. Krames. A. N. 95. Lett. Lai. M. 93. P. Status Solidi C 3. R. J. N. and Y. J. Note that the performance improvement of InGaN/ InGaN LED obtained in this study is much better than that observed in the experimental results reported by Xu et al. 4 J. 041102 2008 . 10 J. F. Özgür. 227 2007 . 12 I. S. Schubert. M. Kim. and H. Fan. which indicates that the InGaN/InGaN LED has better lighting efficiency. Appl. R. 021102 2008 . and M. P. 91. 7 I. Phys. Kim. and M. F. F. H. Zhu. and F. D. In summary. J. which have sloped triangular barriers. 3675 2003 .com . Vurgaftman and J.011116-3 Kuo et al. 91. Phys. 94. Ryou. C. Dupuis. B. R. V. 93. Rozhansky and D. Phys. Piprek. Meyer. 181113 2007 . S. E. Go. Burnaby. Phys. Ambacher. 15 2001 . Lett. M. Watanabe. H. C. Noemaun. 94. J. Fiorentini. T. M. T. Park.. Shimada. due to the large amount of polarization charges at GaN– InGaN and InGaN–AlGaN interfaces. J. Gardner. Ü. 3. Yoon. Park. A. O. F. Figure 5 shows the IQE and light output power as a function of current for the two LED structures under study.-L. K. J. 183507 2007 . G. 053502 2008 . and H. A. Yoon. Status Solidi A 188. 80. Gardner. Steranka. Appl. Grundmann. Sone. 5 Y. V. Q. S. Lett. M. Han. S. Phys. Xu. Dai. when the GaN barriers are replaced by the InGaN barriers in blue InGaN LEDs. and Y. Sun. R. Kim. J. F. Xie. Phys. Mihopoulos. Krames. Stockman. Phys. and the efficiency droop becomes less severe due to the relatively small polarization effect between the barriers and wells. F.-H. Shen. It is noteworthy that there is almost no efficiency droop for the InGaN/InGaN LED. see http://apl. Park. Gardner. J. Appl. Kim. Y. Status Solidi A 204. Krames. 14 J. Liu. and Y. Lett.jsp . X.10 which might result from the material quality degradation caused by increased indium incorporation into the barriers. 3 M. Appl. Appl. E. D. Xu. J. F. Schubert. Shen. J. 91. T. Krames. 11 APSYS by Crosslight Software Inc. R. Phys. Sone. S. Lett. 121107 2008 . 6 I. Y. Phys. 5. 011113 2009 . Redistribution subject to AIP license or copyright. Kaeding. Sakong. S. Mueller. A. Y. F. Color online a IQE and b light output power as a function of current for the two LED structures under study. R. K. David. 2 1 FIG. Because of the advantages in carrier injection and electron blocking. Phys. J. Schubert. J. Appl. 8 A. Appl. M. especially at high current. and the lower potential barrier height in the active region for holes. M. G. Morkoç. Bernardini. Li. 13 V. Wierer. W. the electron current leakage is markedly reduced. Phys. K. Ni.aip. M. 93. F. 92. and O.