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Effects of thermal annealing on photoluminescence (PL) and x-ray diffraction from metastable GaInNAs/GaAs quantum-well samples covered by dielectric layers have been studied. PL from uncoated samples exhibits a saturable blueshift of 22 meV relative to PL from the as-grown samples in these experiments. The shift is attributable to a change in the nearest neighbors of nitrogen in short-range-order N-InmGa4-m (0≤m≤4) clusters at a fixed composition with negligible Ga/In/N interdiffusion. A Si3N4 cap layer effectively prevents the blueshift in the early stage of annealing and improves emission intensity. Under severe annealing conditions (750 °C for 1500 s), the maximum blueshift for the Si3N4-covered samples is 31 meV. A SiO2 cap layer causes a large nonsaturable blueshift, almost 100 meV in these experiments. The large blueshift is assigned to the formation of defects (likely Ga vacancies) at the SiO2/GaAs interface. The defects are believed to diffuse into the bulk at elevated temperatures and to assist Ga/In/N interdiffusion. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.
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