Enhanced electro-optic performance of surface-treated nanowires: origin and mechanism of nanoscale current injection for reliable ultraviolet light-emitting diodes
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-review
Self-assembled nanowires are posed to be viable alternatives to conventional planar structures, including the nitride epitaxy for optoelectronic, electronic and nano-energy applications. In many cases, current injection and extraction at the nanoscopic scale are essential for marked improvement at the macroscopic scale. In this investigation, we study the mechanism of nanoscale current injection and the origin of improvement of the flow of charged carriers at the group-III nitride semiconductor surface and metal-semiconductor interfaces. Conductive atomic force microscopy (c-AFM) and Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) enable a rapid analysis of the electrical and morphological properties of single and ensemble nanostructures. The surface potential and current injection of AlGaN nanowire-based LEDs are spatially mapped before and after surface treatment with KOH solution. Treated-nanowires showed an improved current spreading and increased current injection by nearly 10×, reduced sub-turn-on voltage (as low as 5 V), and smaller series resistance. The reduced contact potential confirms the lower semiconductor/metal barrier, thus enabling larger carriers flow, and correlates with the 15% increase in injection efficiency in macroscopic LEDs. The improvement leads to the normalization of nanoscale electrical conducting properties of UV AlGaN-based nanowire-LEDs and lays the foundation for the realization of practical nanowire-based device applications.