Rare earth (RE)-doped GaN nanowires (NWs), combining the well-defined and controllable optical emission lines of trivalent RE ions with the high crystalline quality, versatility, and small dimension of the NW host, are promising building blocks for future nanoscale devices in optoelectronics and quantum technologies. Europium doping of GaN NWs was performed by ion implantation, and structural and optical properties were assessed in comparison to thin film reference samples. Despite some surface degradation for high implantation fluences, the NW core remains of high crystalline quality with lower concentrations of extended defects than observed in ion-implanted thin films. Strain introduced by implantation defects is efficiently relaxed in NWs and the measured deformation stays much below that in thin films implanted in the same conditions. Optical activation is achieved for all samples after annealing, and while optical centers are similar in all samples, Eu3+ emission from NW samples is shown to be less affected by residual implantation damage than for the case of thin films. The incorporation of Eu in GaN NWs was further investigated by nano-cathodoluminescence and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). Maps of the Eu-emission intensity within a single NW agree well with the Eu-distribution predicted by Monte Carlo simulations, suggesting that no pronounced Eu-diffusion takes place. XAS shows that 70–80% of Eu is found in the 3+ charge state while 20–30% is 2+ attributed to residual implantation defects. A similar local environment was found for Eu in NWs and thin films: for low fluences, Eu is mainly incorporated on substitutional Ga-sites, while for high fluences XAS points at the formation of a local EuN-like next neighbor structure. The results reveal the high potential of ion implantation as a processing tool at the nanoscale.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials