Carrier dynamics in semiconductor quantum dots

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: This thesis presents results of time-resolved photoluminescence experiments conducted on several different self-assembled InGaAs/GaAs and InAs/GaAs semiconductor quantum dot (QD) structures. Depending on the application in mind, different structural, electronic or optical properties have a different weight of importance.Fast carrier capture and relaxation is critical for QD based lasers, for example. In this thesis, the influence of surplus carriers, introduced through modulation-doping, is studied. It is shown that carrier capture is essentially unaffected whereas the intradot relaxation mechanisms, at least at low carrier concentrations, are fundamentally different. The phonon mediated cascade relaxation found in the undoped reference sample is replaced by efficient scattering with the built-in carriers in the case of the doped structures.Moreover, spin relaxation also depends on presence of extra carriers. During energy relaxation via carrier-carrier scattering, the spin polarization is preserved whereas in the undoped sample the strong interaction of relaxing carriers with LO phonons causes spin relaxation. The decay of the ground state spin polarization proceeds at the same rate for doped and undoped structures and is shown to be caused by acoustic phonons, even up to 300 K. While optimizing QD growth for specific applications, it is imperative to evaluate the influence of nonradiative recombination, which is most often detrimental.While misfit dislocations, deliberately introduced in the substrate, lead to the formation of laterally ordered, uniform dots, these samples are found to suffer from strong nonradiative recombination. Structures with different barrier thicknesses and numerical simulations indicate defects in the vicinity of the QDs as main origin of fast carrier trapping.On the other hand, it is shown that direct dot doping, compared to barrier doping or undoped structures, causes only minor degradation of the optical properties. Directly doped dots even exhibit a significantly weaker photoluminescence quenching with temperature, making them prospective for devices operating at room temperature.Finally, the superior proton radiation hardness of QD structures compared to quantum wells is demonstrated, which is due to the three-dimensional confinement. The increase of photoluminescence intensity at low to moderate doses is interpreted as an enhanced carrier transfer into the dots via the defects introduced into the material by the protons.