Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Hadis Morkoç


General lighting with InGaN light emitting diodes (LEDs) as light sources is of particular interest in terms of energy savings and related environmental benefits due to high lighting efficiency, long lifetime, and Hg-free nature. Incandescent and fluorescent light sources are used for general lighting almost everywhere. But their lighting efficiency is very limited: only 20-30 lm/W for incandescent lighting bulb, approximately 100 lm/W for fluorescent lighting. State-of-the-art InGaN LEDs with a luminous efficacy of over 200 lm/W at room temperature have been reported. However, the goal of replacing the incandescent and fluorescent lights with InGaN LEDs is still elusive since their lighting efficiency decreases substantially when the injection current increases beyond certain values (typically 10-50 Acm-2). In order to improve the electroluminescence (EL) performance at high currents for InGaN LEDs, two approaches have been undertaken in this thesis. First, we explored the preparation and characterization of non-polar and semi-polar GaN substrates (including a-plane, m-plane and semi-polar planes). These substrates serve as promising alternatives to the commonly used c-plane, with the benefit of a reduced polarization-induced electric field and therefore higher quantum efficiency. It is demonstrated that LEDs on m-plane GaN substrates have inherently higher EL quantum efficiency and better efficiency retention ability at high injection currents than their c-plane counterparts. Secondly, from a device structure level, we explored the possible origins of the EL efficiency degradation at high currents in InGaN LEDs and investigated the effect of hot electrons on EL of LEDs by varying the barrier height of electron blocking layer. A first-order theoretical model is proposed to explain the effect of electron overflow caused by hot electron transport across the LED active region on LED EL performance. The calculation results are in agreement with experimental observations. Furthermore, a novel structure called a “staircase electron injector” (SEI) is demonstrated to effectively thermalize hot electrons, thereby reducing the reduction of EL efficiency due to electron overflow. The SEI features several InyGa1-yN layers, with their In fraction (y) increasing in a stepwise manner, starting with a low value at the first step near the junction with n-GaN.


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Date of Submission

August 2010