Polarization-balanced design of heterostructures: Application to AlN/GaN double-barrier structures
Journal article, 2011

Inversion and depletion regions generally form at the interfaces between doped leads ( cladding layers) and the active region of polar heterostructures like AlN/GaN and other nitride compounds. The band bending in the depletion region sets up a barrier that may seriously impede perpendicular electronic transport. This may ruin the performance of devices such as quantum-cascade lasers and resonant-tunneling diodes. Here we introduce the concepts of polarization balance and polarization-balanced designs: A structure is polarization balanced when the applied bias match the voltage drop arising from spontaneous and piezeolectric fields. Devices designed to operate at this bias have polarization-balanced designs. These concepts offer a systematic approach to avoid the formation of depletion regions. As a test case, we consider the design of AlN/GaN double-barrier structures with Al((x) over tilde)Ga(1-(x) over tilde)N leads. To guide our efforts, we derive a simple relation between the intrinsic voltage drop arising from polar effects, average alloy composition of the active region, and the alloy concentration of the leads. Polarization-balanced designs secure good filling of the ground state for unbiased structures, while for biased structures with efficient emptying of the active region they remove the depletion barriers.

quantum cascade laser

macroscopic polarization








resonant-tunneling diodes

intersubband absorption


Kristian Berland

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Electronics Material and Systems Laboratory

Thorvald Andersson

Chalmers, Microtechnology and Nanoscience (MC2), Microwave Electronics

Per Hyldgaard

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Electronics Material and Systems Laboratory

Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics

1098-0121 (ISSN)

Vol. 84 24

Areas of Advance

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (2010-2017)


Materials Science

Subject Categories

Other Engineering and Technologies

Physical Sciences

Communication Systems

Nano Technology

Condensed Matter Physics


Basic sciences


C3SE (Chalmers Centre for Computational Science and Engineering)

Driving Forces

Innovation and entrepreneurship



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