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Ultrafast Time-Resolved Photoluminescence Studies of GaAs


Johnson, Matthew Bruce (1989) Ultrafast Time-Resolved Photoluminescence Studies of GaAs. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/9WE7-AP87.


This thesis concerns the study of ultrafast phenomena in semiconductor physics. At the heart of this research is the construction of a colliding-pulse mode-locked (CPM) ring-dye laser. This laser outputs ultrashort optical pulses at a high repetition rate. With a CPM laser, ultrafast semiconductor phenomena may be optically probed. In addition, using this laser to drive photoconductive circuit elements (PCEs), ultrafast electrical pulses can be generated and sampled, allowing novel high-speed devices to be electronically probed. For the measurement of ultrafast time-resolved photoluminescence (PL) a new pump/probe technique called photoluminescence excitation correlation spectroscopy (PECS) was used. The technique itself was investigated both theoretically and experimentally; it was applied to a variety of GaAs samples of interest in the development of high-speed devices.

Chapter 2 discusses the construction and alignment of the CPM laser, and the autocorrelator used to measure the ultrashort pulses. Although the laser can be run with pulse widths of < 100 fs full-width at half maximum (FWHM), in the work of this thesis, the laser was operated with pulse widths in the range 200 to 400 fs, with a repetition rate of about 120 MHz, and average output power of 10 to 30 mW.

In Chapter 3, the PECS method is investigated both experimentally and theoretically. PECS is a pulse-probe technique that measures the cross-correlation of photo-excited populations. PECS is theoretically investigated using a rate equation model for a simple three-level system consisting of an electron and hole band and a single trap level. The model is examined in the limits of radiative band-to-band dominated recombination, and capture-dominated recombination. In the former limit, no PECS signal is observed. However, in the latter limit, the PECS signal from the band-to-band PL measures the cross-correlation of the excited electron-hole population, and, thus, the electron and hole lifetimes. PECS is experimentally investigated using a case study of PL in semi-insulating (SI) GaAs and In-GaAs. At 77 K, the PECS signal behaves as in the simple model, and an electron-hole lifetime in the range 200 ps is measured. This is much less than the expected radiative lifetime, and therefore the recombination in SI GaAs is capture-dominated. At 5 K, the behavior is more complicated, because of an acceptor, which is un-ionized at 5 K. PECS for the PL band-to-band decay, shows two decay modes: the fast decay (about 100 ps) is due to the saturable decay associated with the acceptor and the slow decay (about 1 ns) is due to bulk capture. The acceptor-related PL also shows complicated behavior: A fast decay is associated with the band-to-acceptor transition, and the donor-acceptor PL saturates, producing a PECS signal that is negative and decays slowly.

In Chapter 4, PECS is used to investigate the large band-to-band PL contrast observed near dislocations in In-alloyed GaAs. It is found that the PL intensity contrast between a bright and dark area correlates with the ratio of the lifetimes measured using PECS in these areas. Thus, the PL intensity contrast is due to the difference in the carrier lifetimes in the different regions. The differences in the behavior of the lifetimes in the bright and dark regions with temperature suggest that the lifetime-governing defects in the two regions are different. Moreover, the defects are deep, and from the shortness of the lifetimes, neither defect is EL2. These results agree with earlier research, which indicated that defects are gettered and generated at these dislocations. The effects of surface recombination on the PL intensity and lifetimes in In-alloyed GaAs are important to the investigations of this chapter. These are investigated in Appendix E, where it is shown that both PL intensity and PECS-measured carrier lifetimes are greatly affected by surface properties and by laser dose and surface preparation. This is thought to be due to the creation of defects, which affects the surface recombination directly, and bends the electronic bands at the surface to affect the surface recombination indirectly. These effects are reduced by minimizing the exposure to the laser and by using a recently developed Na2S surface passivation layer.

In Chapter 5, the carrier lifetime of damaged GaAs is correlated to the cross-correlation of the PCEs fabricated on the same material. Implantation of 200 keV H+ ions at doses in the range of 1011 - 1014 cm-2 is used to damage the GaAs. The carrier lifetimes are inversely proportional to the dose for doses > 1012 cm-2, and do not indicate a saturation of the damage within the range investigated. For the highest dose of 1014 cm-2, a lifetime of 0.6 ± 0.2 ps was measured at 77 K. The PCE cross-correlation decreases less quickly than the lifetime, indicating that some effect other than the lifetime is governing the cross-correlation response speed.

Finally, two of the appendices present independent research that is worthy of note. Appendix C presents an attempt to grow HgTe on CdTe using a novel low-temperature Hg-rich melt liquid-phase epitaxial (LPE) growth technique, which involves an in situ cleave. Appendix D presents a program that models the behavior of ultrafast voltage pulses on a dispersive waveguide, which includes a lumped device.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Photoluminescence ; GaAs ; Applied Physics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Applied Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • McGill, Thomas C. (advisor)
  • McCaldin, James Oeland (advisor)
  • Bellan, Paul Murray (co-advisor)
Thesis Committee:
  • McGill, Thomas C. (chair)
  • Nicolet, Marc-Aurele
  • Vahala, Kerry J.
  • Corngold, Noel Robert
  • Cowan, Eugene W.
  • McCaldin, James Oeland
  • Bellan, Paul Murray
Defense Date:15 August 1988
Non-Caltech Author Email:matthew.johnson (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Engineering and Research Council of Canada (NSERC)UNSPECIFIED
International Business Machines CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Army Research OfficeUNSPECIFIED
Office of Naval ResearchUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-02062007-105824
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for ch. 3 adapted for ch. 4 adapted for ch. 4 adapted for ch. 5 adapted for Appendix C related to Appendix E
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:521
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:26 Feb 2007
Last Modified:13 Aug 2021 00:00

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