Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

First Advisor

Michael Reshchikov

Second Advisor

Alison Baski


This dissertation details the study of band bending in n- and p-type GaN samples with a Kelvin probe utilizing different illumination geometries, ambients (air, oxygen, vacuum 10-6 mbar), and sample temperatures (77 – 650 K). The Kelvin probe, which is mounted inside an optical cryostat, is used to measure the surface potential. Illumination of the GaN surface with band-to-band light generates electron-hole pairs, which quickly separate in the depletion region due to a strong electric field caused by the near-surface band bending. The charge that is swept to the surface reduces the band bending and generates a surface photovoltage (SPV). Information about the band bending can be obtained by fitting the SPV measurements with a thermionic model based on the emission of charge carriers from bulk to surface and vice versa. The band bending in freestanding n-type GaN templates has been evaluated. The Ga-polar and N-polar surfaces exhibit upward band bending of about 0.74 and 0.57 eV, respectively. The surface treatment also plays a major role in the SPV behavior, where the SPV for mechanical polished surfaces restores faster than predicted by a thermionic model in dark. When measuring the photoluminescence (PL) signal, the PL from mechanically polished surfaces was about 4 orders of magnitude smaller than the PL from chemically mechanically polished surfaces. The PL and SPV behaviors were explained by the presence of a large density of defects near the surface, which quench PL and aid in the restoration of the SPV via electron hopping between defects. Temperature-dependent SPV studies have also been performed on doped n- and p-type GaN samples. In Si-doped n-type GaN, the estimated upward band bending was about 1 eV at temperatures between 295 and 500 K. However, in p-type GaN, the downward band bending appeared to increase with increasing temperature, where the magnitude of band bending increased from 0.8 eV to 2.1 eV as the temperature increased from 295 to 650 K. It appears that heating the p-type GaN samples allows for band bending values larger than 1 eV to fully restore. Pre-heating of samples was of paramount importance to measure the correct value of band bending in p-type GaN. The slope of the dependence of the SPV on excitation intensity at low temperatures was larger than expected; however, once the temperature exceeded 500 K, the slope began to reach values that are in agreement with a thermionic model.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2012