We present a detailed study of the luminescence at 3.42 eV usually observed in a-plane epitaxial lateral overgrowth (ELO) GaN grown by hydride vapor phase epitaxy on r-plane sapphire. This band is related to radiative recombination of excitons in a commonly encountered extended defect of a-plane GaN: I1 basal stacking fault. Cathodoluminescence measurements show that these stacking faults are essentially located in the windows and the N-face wings of the ELO-GaN and that they can appear isolated as well as organized into bundles. Time-integrated and time-resolved photoluminescence, supported by a qualitative model, evidence not only the efficient trapping of free excitons (FXs) by basal plane stacking faults but also some localization inside I1 stacking faults themselves. Measurements at room temperature show that FXs recombine efficiently with rather long luminescence decay times (360 ps), comparable to those encountered in high-quality GaN epilayers. We discuss the possible role of I1 stacking faults in the overall recombination mechanism of excitons.

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