Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Applied Science (MASc)


Engineering Physics


Daniel Cassidy


David A. Thompson




Metamorphic buffer (MB) layers were studied as a means to grow epilayers on top of a GaAs substrate which have different lattice constant than the GaAs. Growths were done by molecular beam epitaxy on a GaAs (001) substrate. The growths of step-graded InGaAs and InGaAsP MBs have been investigated using both linear and logarithmic grading profiles. The logarithmic grading profile shows slight improvement in the crystal quality over the linear grading profiles. This is an indication that instead of increasing the strain with the same grading rate, it may be helpful to have higher grading rate at the beginning and lower grading rate at the end of the buffer. InGaAsP graded buffers were grown where group III ratio was kept fixed. However due to the existence of phase separation and lower relaxation the quaternary growths exhibited no performance improvement as might have been expected from growths with only group V grading. Also, the effects of using an InGaP layer grown at low temperature before the MB were determined. Quantum wells (QW), which were grown on top of the MBs, were used to probe the optical emission properties. No significant difference was observed in photoluminescence between the samples with a low temperature layer and without a low temperature layer. Annealing enhanced the PL intensity but the crystal quality degraded due to the appearance of surface defects. Surface undulations, known as “cross-hatch” (CH), were observed in the top MB layers. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to analyze the surface morphology and degree of polarization (DOP) measurement was used to analyze the strain features in the final MB layer. Similar patterns of both surface morphology and strain field indicate a correlation between these two. From analysis of the periodicity of strain field and the CH, evidence was found in the support of one of the existing models of CH evolution which implies that the CH appears before the formation of MDs and subsequently MDs form at some troughs in the undulation.

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