Prof. Van de Walle and other researchers find trace impurities in semiconductors kill LED efficiency

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

From the UCSB Current article, "Atomic Imperfections"

Using cutting-edge first-principles calculations, UCSB Materials professor Chris Van de Walle and researchers in his lab have demonstrated the mechanism by which transition metal impurities — iron in particular — can act as nonradiative recombination centers in nitride semiconductors. The work highlights that such impurities can have a detrimental impact on the efficiency of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) based on gallium nitride (GaN) or indium gallium nitride. 

For LEDs, high-purity material is essential to lighting technology, such as residential and commercial solid-state lighting, adaptive lighting for automobiles and displays for mobile devices. Imperfections at the atomic scale can limit the performance of LEDs through a process known as Shockley-Read-Hall recombination. The operation of an LED relies on the radiative recombination of electrons and holes, which results in the emission of photons. Defects or impurities can act as a source of nonradiative recombination and prevent the emission of light, lowering the LED efficiency.

The UCSB researchers, in collaboration with researchers from Rutgers University, the University of Vienna, the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology in Lithuania, have identified that iron, even at concentrations less than parts-per-million, can be highly detrimental.

To read the entire article, please visit The UCSB Current

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