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Piezoelectric effects on the optical properties of GaN/AlGaN multiple quantum wells (MQWs) have been investigated by picosecond time-resolved photoluminescence (PL) measurements. For MQWs with well thicknesses 30 and 40 Å, the excitonic transition peak positions at 10 K in continuous wave (cw) spectra are redshifted with respect to the GaN epilayer by 13 and 45 meV, respectively. The time-resolved PL spectra of the 30 and 40 Å well MQWs reveal that the excitonic transition is in fact blueshifted at early delay times due to quantum confinement of carriers. The spectral peak position shifts toward lower energies as the delay time increases and becomes redshifted at longer delay times. We have demonstrated that the results described above are due to the presence of the piezoelectric field in the GaN wells of GaN/AlGaN MQWs subject to elastic strain together with screening of the photoexcited carriers. By comparing experimental and calculation results, we conclude that the piezoelectric field strength in GaN/Al0.15Ga0.85N MQWs has a lower limit value of about 560 kV/cm. The electron and hole wave function distributions have also been obtained. The implication of our findings on the practical applications of GaN based optoelectronic devices is also discussed. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.
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