The crystal quality, electrical, and optical characteristics of GaN-based light-emitting diodes (LEDs) were improved using a sputtered AlN nucleation layer. Replacing the in situ AlN nucleation layer with the sputtered AlN nucleation layer reduced the (002) and (102) X-ray rocking curve widths of the GaN layer from 318.0 to 201.1 and 412.5 to 225.0 arcsec, respectively. The rm 20-V reverse leakage current of the LEDs with the sputtered AlN nucleation layer is about three orders less than that of the LEDs with the in situ AlN nucleation layer. In addition, the LEDs with sputtered AlN nucleation layer could sustain more than 60% passing yield on the ESD test of under a -600-V machine mode, whereas the LEDs with the in situ AlN nucleation layer sustained less than 40% passing yield. Moreover, the 20-mA output power of the LEDs with the sputtered AlN nucleation layer also improved by approximately 5.73% compared with that of the LEDs with the in situ AlN nucleation layer.
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