Final Report Summary - MACONS (A multi-microscopy approach to the characterisation of Nitride semiconductors (MACONS))
The commercial market for electronic and optoelectronic devices based on nitride semiconductors is growing extremely fast, but the fundamental science underlying these devices has too often lagged behind. This project explored the vital link between structure and properties in nitride materials, in order to reveal the limitations of current devices and to pave the way for new, improved technology. Our key strategy was to combine multiple microscopy techniques to develop a comprehensive understanding of nanostructures and defects in the nitrides, and to link these discoveries to nanoscale measurements of the optical and electrical properties. This required a synergy of different techniques, ranging from techniques commonly used on metals (such as atom-probe tomography) to techniques which focus exclusively on semiconductors (such as scanning capacitance microscopy). To bring together these diverse techniques and use them to best effect we have developed new approaches, to allow the same nanoscale regions of material to be assessed in multiple microscopes, so that the structure and composition of a specific nanostructure may be linked directly and unambiguously to its electrical and optical properties. Overall, we have provided a much more complete picture of nitride materials science than has ever previously been achieved, particularly in terms of the materials used to make light emitting diodes (LEDs). These discoveries are now helping to guide the development of LEDs with improved performance.