Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering - (Ph.D.)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Leonid Tsybeskov

Second Advisor

Anthony Fiory

Third Advisor

Haim Grebel

Fourth Advisor

Marek Sosnowski

Fifth Advisor

Tao Zhou


Group IV semiconductors (Si, Ge) are inefficient light emitting materials due to their indirect bandgap structure. Nanostructures of Si, Ge, and SiGe however, have shown relatively high photoluminescence (PL) quantum efficiency (QE) at low carrier concentrations. At higher carrier concentrations, the PL QE of these nanostructures is drastically reduced due to the onset of a fast non-radiative process attributed to Auger recombination. Moreover, this onset occurs earlier in structures with reduced physical dimensions, than in bulk material. The study of Auger-mediated processes in group IV nanostructures is therefore critical to understanding the physics of carrier recombination and photonic device limitations. This work investigates recombination mechanisms in two such systems: the silicon/silicon germanium three-dimensional (3D) nanostructure system, and the silicon-on-insulator (SOI) system.

Recombination mechanisms are studied by several experimental techniques. One approach explores the steady state PL spectroscopy and PL dynamics under pulsed excitations with varying concentrations of photo-generated charge carriers in the investigated systems. Another important technique uses selective, wavelength dependent photoexcitation to generate carriers up to varying depths in the nanostructures, enabling the understanding of local differences in PL properties through the thickness of structures.

Several interesting observations are reported and underlying recombination mechanisms are discussed. For the Si/SiGe 3D nanostructure system, these include a reversible degradation of the PL after a few minutes of relative stability, an Auger Fountain mechanism that redistributes charge carriers within the nanostructure, and a severe reduction of the exciton diffusion length. For the SOI system, an apparently successful competition of the radiative recombination of carriers in a condensed excitonic phase with Auger processes is observed. The influence of the Si/SiO2 interface on the recombination mechanism in this system is emphasized. Results of the experiments show that the coexistence of a type II energy band alignment at Si/SiGe interfaces, the electron-hole-droplets in Si, and Auger-mediated processes results in several unusual photoluminescence properties in SiGe and Si nanostructures.