Optical spectroscopy of InGaAs quantum dots

University dissertation from Linköping : Linköping University Electronic Press

Abstract: The work presented in this thesis deals with optical studies of semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) in the InGaAs material system. It is shown that for self-assembled InAs QDs, the interaction with the surrounding GaAs barrier and the InAs wetting layer (WL) in particular, has a very large impact on their optical properties.The ability to control the charge state of individual QDs is demonstrated and attributed to a modulation in the carrier transport dynamics in the WL. After photo-excitation of carriers (electrons and holes) in the barrier, they will migrate in the sample and with a certain probability become captured into a QD. During this migration, the carriers can be affected by exerting them to an external magnetic field or by altering the temperature.An external magnetic field applied perpendicular to the carrier transport direction will lead to a decrease in the carrier drift velocity since their trajectories are bent, and at sufficiently high field strength become circular. In turn, this decreases the probability for the carriers to reach the QD since the probability for the carriers to get trapped in WL localizing potentials increases. An elevated temperature leads to an increased escape rate out of these potentials and again increases the flow of carriers towards the QD. These effects have significantly different strengths for electrons and holes due to the large difference in their respective masses and therefore it constitutes a way to control the supply of charges to the QD.Another effect of the different capture probabilities for electrons and holes into a QD that is explored is the ability to achieve spin polarization of the neutral exciton (X0). It has been concluded frequently in the literature that X0 cannot maintain its spin without application of an external magnetic field, due to the anisotropic electron – hole exchange interaction (AEI). In our studies, we show that at certain excitation conditions, the AEI can be by-passed since an electron is captured faster than a hole into a QD. The result is that the electron will populate the QD solely for a certain time window, before the hole is captured. During this time window and at polarized excitation, which creates spin polarized carriers, the electron can polarize the QD nuclei. In this way, a nuclear magnetic field is built up with a magnitude as high as ~ 1.5 T. This field will stabilize the X0 spin in a similar manner as an external magnetic field would. The build-up time for this nuclear field was determined to be ~ 10 ms and the polarization degree achieved for X0 is ~ 60 %.In contrast to the case of X0, the AEI is naturally cancelled for the negatively charged exciton (X-) and the positively charged exciton (X+) complexes. This is due to the fact that the electron (hole) spin is paired off in case of X- (X+).  Accordingly, an even higher polarization degree (~ 73 %) is measured for the positively charged exciton.In a different study, pyramidal QD structures were employed. In contrast to fabrication of self-assembled QDs, the position of QDs can be controlled in these samples as they are grown in inverted pyramids that are etched into a substrate. After sample processing, the result is free-standing AlGaAs pyramids with InGaAs QDs inside. Due to the pyramidal shape of these structures, the light extraction is considerably enhanced which opens up possibilities to study processes un-resolvable in self-assembled QDs. This has allowed studies of Auger-like shake-up processes of holes in single QDs. Normally, after radiative recombination of X+, the QD is populated with a ground state hole. However, at recombination, a fraction of the energy can be transferred to the hole so that it afterwards occupies an excited state instead. This process is detected experimentally as a red-shifted luminescence satellite peak with an intensity on the order of ~ 1/1000 of the main X+ peak intensity. The identification of the satellite peak is based on its intensity correlation with the X+ peak, photoluminescence excitation measurements and on magnetic field measurements.