U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Applied Surface Science 395 (2017), pp. 98–104.


U.S. government work.


In this work, we have characterized by transmission electron microscopy techniques the structural properties of InAlAsSb/InGaAs/InP heterostructures, with target applications in high efficiency solar cells. Previous photoluminescence (PL)1 analysis suggested the existence of compositional fluctuations in the active layer of these heterostructures. 220 bright field (BF)2 diffraction contrast micrographs have revealed strong strain contrast in the InGaAs buffer layer, related to the existence of these compositional fluctuations. The effect of a decomposed buffer on the growth of the InAlAsSb layer has been analyzed through the simulation of the strain fields in the heterostructure using the finite elements method (FEM).3 These simulations have shown that the strain in the buffer layer due to the compositional fluctuations only affects the first few nm of the InAlAsSb layer. The analysis by aberration corrected high angle annular dark field scanning transmission electron microscopy (HAADF-STEM)4and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS)5of the composition of the InAlAsSb layer reveals that any compositional fluctuation is only observed as an average effect, rather than in the form of clustering or atomically sharp transitions. The limitations of these techniques for the detection of small 3D compositional fluctuations are discussed.