Amorphous sub-nanometre Tb-doped SiOxNy/SiO2superlattices for optoelectronics
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Amorphous sub-nanometre Tb-doped SiOxNy/SiO2 superlattices were fabricated by means of alternating deposition of 0.7 nm thick Tb-doped SiOxNy layers and of 0.9 nm thick SiO2 barrier layers in an electron-cyclotron-resonance plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition system with in situ Tb-doping capability. High resolution transmission electron microscopy images showed a well-preserved superlattice morphology after annealing at a high temperature of 1000 °C. In addition, transparent indium tin oxide (ITO) electrodes were deposited by electron beam evaporation using a shadow mask approach to allow for the optoelectronic characterization of superlattices. Tb(3+) luminescent spectral features were obtained using three different excitation sources: UV laser excitation (photoluminescence (PL)), under a bias voltage (electroluminescence (EL)) and under a highly energetic electron beam (cathodoluminescence (CL)). All techniques displayed Tb(3+) inner transitions belonging to (5)D4 levels except for the CL spectrum, in which (5)D3 transition levels were also observed. Two competing mechanisms were proposed to explain the spectral differences observed between PL (or EL) and CL excitation: the population rate of the (5)D3 state and the non-radiative relaxation rate of the (5)D3-(5)D4 transition due to a resonant OH-mode. Moreover, the large number of interfaces (trapping sites) that electrons have to get through was identified as the main reason for observing a bulk-limited charge transport mechanism governed by Poole-Frenkel conduction in the J-V characteristic. Finally, a linear EL-J dependence was measured, with independent spectral shape and an EL onset voltage as low as 6.7 V. These amorphous sub-nanometre superlattices are meant to provide low-cost solutions in different areas including sensing, photovoltaics or photonics.
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