Cross-sectional scanning tunneling microscopy is performed on operating semiconductor quantum well laser devices to reveal real time changes in device structure. Low and nominally doped capping regions adjacent to the quantum well active region are found to heat under normal operating conditions. The increase in anion-vacancy defect formation and the generation of surface states pins the Fermi level at the surface and begins the process of catastrophic optical degradation which eventually destroys the device. The technique has implications for the study of defect generation and in-operation changes in all nanostructures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)