Disentangling the Impact of Point Defect Density and Carrier Localization-Enhanced Auger Recombination on Efficiency Droop in (In,Ga)N/GaN Quantum Wells

R M Barrett, J M McMahon, R Ahumada-Lazo, J A Alanis, P Parkinson, S Schulz, M J Kappers, R A Oliver, D Binks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The internal quantum efficiency of (In,Ga)N/GaN quantum wells can surpass 90% for blue-emitting structures at moderate drive current densities but decreases significantly for longer emission wavelengths and at higher excitation rates. This latter effect is known as efficiency "droop" and limits the brightness of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) based on such quantum wells. Several mechanisms have been proposed to explain efficiency droop including Auger recombination, both intrinsic and defect-assisted, carrier escape, and the saturation of localized states. However, it remains unclear which of these mechanisms is most important because it has proven difficult to reconcile theoretical calculations of droop with measurements. Here, we first present experimental photoluminescence measurements extending over three orders of magnitude of excitation for three samples grown at different temperatures that indicate that droop behavior is not dependent on the point defect density in the quantum wells studied. Second, we use an atomistic tight-binding electronic structure model to calculate localization-enhanced radiative and Auger rates and show that both the corresponding carrier density-dependent internal quantum efficiency and the carrier density decay dynamics are in excellent agreement with our experimental measurements. Moreover, we show that point defect density, Auger recombination, and the effect of the polarization field on recombination rates only limit the peak internal quantum efficiency to about 70% in the resonantly excited green-emitting quantum wells studied. This suggests that factors external to the quantum wells, such as carrier injection efficiency and homogeneity, contribute appreciably to the significantly lower peak external quantum efficiency of green LEDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2632-2640
Number of pages9
JournalACS Photonics
Issue number8
Early online date19 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2023


  • Auger recombination
  • InGaN
  • efficiency droop
  • light-emitting diode
  • localization
  • point defect density


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