The use of III-nitride-based light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is now widespread in applications such as indicator lamps, display panels, backlighting for liquid-crystal display TVs and computer screens, traffic lights, etc. To meet the huge market demand and lower the manufacturing cost, the LED industry is moving fast from 2 inch to 4 inch and recently to 6 inch wafer sizes. Although Al2O3(sapphire) and SiC remain the dominant substrate materials for the epitaxy of nitride LEDs, the use of large Si substrates attracts great interest because Si wafers are readily available in large diameters at low cost. In addition, such wafers are compatible with existing processing lines for 6 inch and larger wafers commonly used in the electronics industry. During the last decade, much exciting progress has been achieved in improving the performance of GaN-on-Si devices. In this contribution, the status and prospects of III-nitride optoelectronics grown on Si substrates are reviewed. The issues involved in the growth of GaN-based LED structures on Si and possible solutions are outlined, together with a brief introduction to some novel in situ and ex situ monitoring/characterization tools, which are especially useful for the growth of GaN-on-Si structures.
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