Hide menu

Welcome to Functional Electronic Materials

In the Division of Functional Electronic Materials, we conduct scientific research on electronic, magnetic and photonic semiconductor materials and nanostructures. The materials systems currently under study include novel spintronic materials, advanced electronic and photonic materials based on wide bandgap semiconductors and highly mismatched semiconductors, and semiconductor nanostructures.

The research is carried out mostly through a close collaboration with many groups worldwide. Our aim is to obtain a better understanding of fundamental physical properties and a good control of materials properties, and to fully explore functionality of the studied materials for applications in future generation micro- and nano-electronics and photonics as well as in potential multifunctional devices and systems.

Understanding and optimizing spin injection in self-assembled InAs/GaAs quantum-dot molecular structures

Yuqing Huang, Yuttapoom Puttisong, Irina A. Buyanova, Weimin M. Chen

Semiconductor quantum-dot (QD) structures are promising for spintronic applications owing to their strong quenching of spin relaxation processes that are promoted by carrier and exciton motions. Unfortunately, the spin injection efficiency in such nanostructures is very low and the exact physical mechanism of the spin loss is still not fully understood. Here, we show that exciton spin injection in self-assembled InAs/GaAs QDs and QD molecular structures (QMSs) is dominated by localized excitons confined within the QD-like regions of the wetting layer (WL) and GaAs barrier layer that immediately surround the QDs and QMSs. These localized excitons in fact lack the commonly believed 2D and 3D character with an extended wavefunction. We attribute the microscopic origin of the severe spin loss observed during spin injection to a sizable anisotropic exchange interaction (AEI) of the localized excitons in the WL and GaAs barrier layer, which has so far been overlooked. We determined that the AEI of the injected excitons and, thus, the efficiency of the spin injection processes are correlated with the overall geometric symmetry of the QMSs. This symmetry largely defines the anisotropy of the confinement potential of the localized excitons in the surrounding WL and GaAs barrier. These results pave the way for a better understanding of spin injection processes and the microscopic origin of spin loss in QD structures. Furthermore, they provide a useful guideline to significantly improve spin injection efficiency by optimizing the lateral arrangement of QMSs and overcome a major challenge in spintronic device applications utilizing semiconductor QDs.

Fabry–Perot Microcavity Modes in Single GaP/GaNP Core/Shell Nanowires

Alexander Dobrovolsky, Jan E. Stehr, Supanee Sukrittanon, Yanjin Kuang, Charles W. Tu, Weimin M. Chen and Irina A. Buyanova

Semiconductor nanowires (NWs) are attracting increasing interest as nanobuilding blocks for optoelectronics and photonics. A novel material system that is highly suitable for these applications are GaNP NWs. In this article, we show that individual GaP/GaNP core/shell nanowires (NWs) grown by molecular beam epitaxy on Si substrates can act as Fabry-Perot (FP) microcavities. This conclusion is based on results of microphotoluminescence (μ-PL) measurements performed on individual NWs, which reveal periodic undulations of the PL intensity that follow an expected pattern of FP cavity modes. The cavity is concluded to be formed along the NW axis with the end facets acting as reflecting mirrors. The formation of the FP modes is shown to be facilitated by an increasing index contrast with the surrounding media. Spectral dependence of the group refractive index is also determined for the studied NWs. The observation of the FP microcavity modes in the GaP/GaNP core/shell NWs can be considered as a first step toward achieving lasing in this quasidirect bandgap semiconductor in the NW geometry.

Efficient nitrogen incorporation in ZnO nanowires

Jan E. Stehr, Weimin M. Chen, Nandanapalli Koteeswara Reddy, Chale W. Tu and Irina A. Buyanova

One-dimensional ZnO nanowires (NWs) are a promising materials system for a variety of applications. Utilization of ZnO, however, requires a good understanding and control of material properties that are largely affected by intrinsic defects and contaminants. In this work we provide experimental evidence for unintentional incorporation of nitrogen in ZnO NWs grown by rapid thermal chemical vapor deposition, from electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. The incorporated nitrogen atoms are concluded to mainly reside at oxygen sites (NO). The NO centers are suggested to be located in proximity to the NW surface, based on their reduced optical ionization energy as compared with that in bulk. This implies a lower defect formation energy at the NW surface as compared with its bulk value, consistent with theoretical predictions. The revealed facilitated incorporation of nitrogen in ZnO nanostructures may be advantageous for realizing p-type conducting ZnO via N doping. The awareness of this process can also help to prevent such unintentional doping in structures with desired n-type conductivity.

Suppression of non-radiative surface recombination by N incorporation in GaAs/GaNAs core/shell nanowires

Shula L. Chen, Weimin M. Chen, Fumitaro Ishikawa, Irina A. Buyanova

III-V semiconductor nanowires (NWs) such as GaAs NWs form an interesting artificial materials system promising for applications in advanced optoelectronic and photonic devices, thanks to the advantages offered by the 1D architecture and the possibility to combine it with the main-stream silicon technology. Alloying of GaAs with nitrogen can further enhance performance and extend device functionality via band-structure and lattice engineering. However, due to a large surface-to-volume ratio, III-V NWs suffer from severe non-radiative carrier recombination at/near NWs surfaces that significantly degrades optical quality. Here we show that increasing nitrogen composition in novel GaAs/GaNAs core/shell NWs can strongly suppress the detrimental surface recombination. This conclusion is based on our experimental finding that lifetimes of photo-generated free excitons and free carriers increase with increasing N composition, as revealed from our time-resolved photoluminescence (PL) studies. This is accompanied by a sizable enhancement in the PL intensity of the GaAs/GaNAs core/shell NWs at room temperature. The observed N-induced suppression of the surface recombination is concluded to be a result of an N-induced modification of the surface states that are responsible for the nonradiative recombination. Our results, therefore, demonstrate the great potential of incorporating GaNAs in III-V NWs to achieve efficient nano-scale light emitters.

Effects of Polytypism on Optical Properties and Band Structure of Individual Ga(N)P Nanowires from Correlative Spatially Resolved Structural and Optical Studies

A. Dobrovolsky, P. O. Å. Persson, S. Sukrittanon, Y. Kuang, C. W. Tu, W.  M. Chen, I. A. Buyanova

III–V semiconductor nanowires (NWs) have gained significant interest as building blocks in novel nanoscale devices. The one-dimensional (1D) nanostructure architecture allows one to extend band structure engineering beyond quantum confinement effects by utilizing formation of different crystal phases that are thermodynamically unfavorable in bulk materials. It is therefore of crucial importance to understand the influence of variations in the NWs crystal structure on their fundamental physical properties. In this work we investigate effects of structural polytypism on the optical properties of gallium phosphide and GaP/GaNP core/shell NW structures by a correlative investigation on the structural and optical properties of individual NWs. The former is monitored by transmission electron microscopy, whereas the latter is studied via cathodoluminescence (CL) mapping. It is found that structural defects, such as rotational twins in zinc blende (ZB) GaNP, have detrimental effects on light emission intensity at low temperatures by promoting nonradiative recombination processes. On the other hand, formation of the wurtzite (WZ) phase does not notably affect the CL intensity neither in GaP nor in the GaNP alloy. This suggests that zone folding in WZ GaP does not enhance its radiative efficiency, consistent with theoretical predictions. We also show that the change in the lattice structure have negligible effects on the bandgap energies of the GaNP alloys, at least within the range of the investigated nitrogen compositions of <2%. Both WZ and ZB GaNP are found to have a significantly higher efficiency of radiative recombination as compared with that in parental GaP, promising for potential applications of GaNP NWs as efficient nanoscale light emitters within the desirable amber-red spectral range.

Exciton Fine-Structure Splitting in Self-Assembled Lateral InAs/GaAs Quantum-Dot Molecular Structures

Stanislav Fillipov,  Yuttapoom Puttisong,  Yuqing Huang,  Irina A. Buyanova,  Suwaree Suraprapapich,  Charles W. Tu and Weimin M. Chen

Fine-structure splitting (FSS) of excitons in semiconductor nanostructures is a key parameter that has significant implications in photon entanglement and polarization conversion between electron spins and photons, relevant to quantum information technology and spintronics. Here, we investigate exciton FSS in self-organized lateral InAs/GaAs quantum-dot molecular structures (QMSs) including laterally-aligned double quantum dots (DQDs), quantum-dot clusters (QCs) and quantum rings (QRs), by employing polarization-resolved micro-photoluminescence (µPL) spectroscopy. We find a clear trend in FSS between the studied QMSs depending on their geometric arrangements, from a large FSS in the DQDs to a smaller FSS in the QCs and QRs. This trend is accompanied by a corresponding difference in the optical polarization directions of the excitons between these QMSs, namely, the bright-exciton lines are linearly polarized preferably along or perpendicular to the [11 ̅0] crystallographic axis in the DQDs that also defines the alignment direction of the two constituting QDs, whereas in the QCs and QRs the polarization directions are randomly oriented. We attribute the observed trend in the FSS to a significant reduction of the asymmetry in the lateral confinement potential of the excitons in the QRs and QCs as compared with the DQDs, as a result of a compensation between the effects of lateral shape anisotropy and piezoelectric field. Our work demonstrates that FSS strongly depends on the geometric arrangements of the QMSs, which effectively tune the degree of the compensation effects and are capable of reducing FSS even in a strained QD system to a limit similar to strain-free QDs. This approach provides a pathway in obtaining high-symmetry quantum emitters desirable for realizing photon entanglement and spintronic devices based on such nanostructures, utilizing an uninterrupted epitaxial growth procedure without special requirements for lattice-matched materials combinations, specific substrate orientations and nanolithography.

Optimizing GaNP Coaxial Nanowires for Efficient Light Emission by Controlling Formation of Surface and Interfacial Defects

Jan E. Stehr,  Alexander Dobrovolsky,  Supanee Sukrittanon,  Yanjin Kuang,  Charles W. Tu ,Weimin M. Chen, and  Irina A. Buyanova

We report on identification and control of important nonradiative recombination centers in GaNP coaxial nanowires (NWs) grown on Si substrates in an effort to significantly increase light emitting efficiency of these novel nanostructures promising for a wide variety of optoelectronic and photonic applications. A point defect complex, labeled as DD1 and consisting of a P atom with a neighboring partner aligned along a crystallographic ⟨111⟩ axis, is identified by optically detected magnetic resonance as a dominant nonradiative recombination center that resides mainly on the surface of the NWs and partly at the heterointerfaces. The formation of DD1 is found to be promoted by the presence of nitrogen and can be suppressed by reducing the strain between the core and shell layers, as well as by protecting the optically active shell by an outer passivating shell. Growth modes employed during the NW growth are shown to play a role. On the basis of these results, we identify the GaP/GaNyP1–y/GaNxP1–x (x < y) core/shell/shell NW structure, where the GaNyP1–y inner shell with the highest nitrogen content serves as an active light-emitting layer, as the optimized and promising design for efficient light emitters based on GaNP NWs.

Origin of strong photoluminescence polarization in GaNP nanowires

S. Filippov, S. Sukrittanon, Y. Kuang, C. W. Tu, Per O. Å. Persson, W. M. Chen, and I. A. Buyanova

III-V semiconductor nanowires (NWs) have a great potential for applications in a variety of future electronic and photonic devices with enhanced functionality. In this work, we employ polarization resolved micro-photoluminescence (-PL) spectroscopy to study polarization properties of light emissions from individual GaNP and GaP/GaNP core/shell nanowires (NWs) with average diameters ranging between 100 and 350 nm. We show that the near-band-edge emission, which originates from the GaNP regions of the NWs, is strongly polarized (up to 60 % at 150 K) in the direction perpendicular to the NW axis. The polarization anisotropy can be retained up to room temperature. This polarization behavior, which is unusual for zinc blende NWs, is attributed to local strain in the vicinity of the N-related centers participating in the radiative recombination and to preferential alignment of their principal axis along the growth direction. Our findings therefore show that defect engineering via alloying with nitrogen provides an additional degree of freedom to tailor the polarization anisotropy of III-V nanowires, advantageous for their applications as nanoscale emitters of polarized light.

Zinc-Vacancy–Donor Complex: A Crucial Compensating Acceptor in ZnO

J. E. Stehr, K. M. Johansen, T. S. Bjørheim, L. Vines, B. G. Svensson, W. M. Chen, and I. A. Buyanova

Published as a Letter in Phys. Rev. Applied 2, 021001 (2014)

The aluminum–zinc-vacancy (AlZn−VZn) complex is identified as one of the dominant defects in Al-containing n-type ZnO after electron irradiation at room temperature with energies above 0.8 MeV. The complex is energetically favorable over the isolated VZn, binding more than 90% of the stable VZn’s generated by the irradiation. It acts as a deep acceptor with the (0/−) energy level located at approximately 1 eV above the valence band. Such a complex is concluded to be a defect of crucial and general importance that limits the n-type doping efficiency by complex formation with donors, thereby literally removing the donors, as well as by charge compensation.

Trap-Assisted Recombination via Integer Charge Transfer States in Organic Bulk Heterojunction Photovoltaics

Q. Bao, O. Sandberg, D. Dagnelund, S. Sandén, S. Braun, H. Aarnio, X. Liu, W. M. Chen, R. Österbacka and M. Fahlman

Organic photovoltaics are under intense development and significant focus has been placed on tuning the donor ionization potential and acceptor electron affinity to optimize open circuit voltage. Here, it is shown that for a series of regioregular-poly(3-hexylthiophene):fullerene bulk heterojunction (BHJ) organic photovoltaic devices with pinned electrodes, integer charge transfer states present in the dark and created as a consequence of Fermi level equilibrium at BHJ have a profound effect on open circuit voltage. The integer charge transfer state formation causes vacuum level misalignment that yields a roughly constant effective donor ionization potential to acceptor electron affinity energy difference at the donor–acceptor interface, even though there is a large variation in electron affinity for the fullerene series. The large variation in open circuit voltage for the corresponding device series instead is found to be a consequence of trap-assisted recombination via integer charge transfer states. Based on the results, novel design rules for optimizing open circuit voltage and performance of organic bulk heterojunction solar cells are proposed.

Energy Upconversion in GaP/GaNP Core/Shell Nanowires for Enhanced Near-Infrared Light Harvesting

A. Dobrovolsky, S. Sukrittanon, Y. Kuang, C.W. Tu, W. M. Chen, and I. A. Buyanova

Semiconductor nanowires (NWs) have recently gained increasing interest due to their great potential for photovoltaics. A novel material system based on GaNP NWs is considered to be highly suitable for applications in efficient multi-junction and intermediate band solar cells. This work shows that though the bandgap energies of GaNxP1-x alloys lie within the visible spectral range (i.e., within 540–650 nm for the currently achievable x < 3%), coaxial GaNP NWs grown on Si substrates can also harvest infrared light utilizing energy upconversion. This energy upconversion can be monitored via anti-Stokes near-band-edge photoluminescence (PL) from GaNP, visible even from a single NW. The dominant process responsible for this effect is identified as being due to two-step two-photon absorption (TS-TPA) via a deep level lying at about 1.28 eV above the valence band, based on the measured dependences of the anti-Stokes PL on excitation power and wavelength. The formation of the defect participating in the TS-TPA process is concluded to be promoted by nitrogen incorporation. The revealed defect-mediated TS-TPA process can boost efficiency of harvesting solar energy in GaNP NWs, beneficial for applications of this novel material system in third-generation photovoltaic devices.

Turning ZnO into an Efficient Energy Upconversion Material by Defect Engineering

Jan E. Stehr, Shula L. Chen, Nandanapalli Koteeswara Reddy, Charles W. Tu, Weimin M. Chen and Irina A. Buyanova

Photon upconversion materials are attractive for a wide range of applications from medicine, biology, to photonics. Among them, ZnO is of particular interest owing to its outstanding combination of materials and physical properties. Though energy upconversion has been demonstrated in ZnO, the exact physical mechanism is still unknown, preventing control of the processes. Here, defects formed in bulk and nanostructured ZnO synthesized using standard growth techniques play a key role in promoting efficient energy upconversion via two-step two-photon absorption (TS-TPA). From photoluminescence excitation of the anti-Stokes emissions, the threshold energy of the TS-TPA process is determined as being 2.10–2.14 eV in all studied ZnO materials irrespective of the employed growth techniques. This photo-electron paramagnetic resonance studies show that this threshold closely matches the ionization energy of the zinc vacancy (a common grown-in intrinsic defect in ZnO), thereby identifying the zinc vacancy as being the dominant defect responsible for the observed efficient energy upconversion. The upconversion is found to persist even at a low excitation density, making it attractive for photonic and photovoltaic applications.

Semi-metallic polymers

Olga Bubnova, Zia Ullah Khan, Hui Wang, Slawomir Braun, Drew R. Evans, Manrico Fabretto, Pejman Hojati-Talemi, Daniel Dagnelund, Jean-Baptiste Arlin, Yves H. Geerts, Simon Desbief,   Dag W. Breiby, Jens W. Andreasen, Roberto Lazzaroni, Weimin M. Chen, Igor Zozoulenko, Mats Fahlman, Peter J. Murphy, Magnus Berggren & Xavier Crispin

Polymers are lightweight, flexible, solution-processable materials that are promising for low-cost printed electronics as well as for mass-produced and large-area applications. Previous studies demonstrated that they can possess insulating, semiconducting or metallic properties; here we report that polymers can also be semi-metallic. Semi-metals, exemplified by bismuth, graphite and telluride alloys, have no energy bandgap and a very low density of states at the Fermi level. Furthermore, they typically have a higher Seebeck coefficient and lower thermal conductivities compared with metals, thus being suitable for thermoelectric applications.We measure the thermoelectric properties of various poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) samples, and observe a marked increase in the Seebeck coefficient when the electrical conductivity is enhanced through molecular organization. This initiates the transition from a Fermi glass to a semi-metal. The high Seebeck value, the metallic conductivity at room temperature and the absence of unpaired electron spins makes polymer semi-metals attractive for thermoelectrics and spintronics.

Efficient room-temperature nuclear spin hyperpolarization of defect atom in a semiconductor

Yuttapoom Puttisong, Xingjun Wang, Irina A. Buyanova, L. Geelhaar, H. Riechert, A. J. Ptak, C. W. Tu and Weimin. M. Chen

Nuclear spin hyperpolarization is essential to future solid-state quantum computation using nuclear spin qubits and in highly sensitive magnetic resonance imaging. Though efficient dynamic nuclear polarization in semiconductors has been demonstrated at low temperatures for decades, its realization at room temperature is largely lacking. Here we demonstrate that a combined effect of efficient spin-dependent recombination and hyperfine coupling can facilitate strong dynamic nuclear polarization of a defect atom in a semiconductor at room temperature. We provide direct evidence that a sizeable nuclear field (~150 Gauss) and nuclear spin polarization (~15%) sensed by conduction electrons in GaNAs originates from dynamic nuclear polarization of a Ga interstitial defect. We further show that the dynamic nuclear polarization process is remarkably fast and is completed in <5 μs at room temperature. The proposed new concept could pave a way to overcome a major obstacle in achieving strong dynamic nuclear polarization at room temperature, desirable for practical device applications.

Room-temperature electron spin amplifier based on Ga(In)NAs alloys

Yuttapoom Puttisong, Irina A. Buyanova, A. J. Ptak, C. W. Tu, L. Geelhaar, H. Riechert and Weimin M. Chen

The first experimental demonstration of a spin amplifier at room temperature is presented. An efficient, defect-enabled spin amplifier based on a non-magnetic semiconductor, Ga(In)NAs, is proposed and demonstrated, with a large spin gain (up to 2700% at zero field) for conduction electrons and a high cut-off frequency up to 1 GHz.

Handbook of Spintronic Semiconductors

edited by Weimin M Chen and Irina A Buyanova

Published in Spring 2010 by Pan Stanford Publishing. 400 pages (approx.) ISBN 978-981-4267-36-6


Room-temperature defect-engineered spin filter based on a non-magnetic semiconductor

Xingjun J. Wang, Irina A. Buyanova, F. Zhao, D. Lagarde, A. Balocchi, X. Marie, C. W. Tu, J. C. Harmand and Weimin M. Chen


LiU E-Press offers a free parallel publication.

En översikt på svenska finns i LiUs nyhets-arkiv.

Responsible for this page: Stanislav Filippov, Yuttapoom Puttisong
Last updated: 02/08/16