Quantum confinement and electroluminescence in ultrathin silicon nanowires fabricated by a maskless etching technique

We present a novel approach for the direct synthesis of ultrathin Si nanowires (NWs) exhibiting room temperature light emission. The synthesis is based on a wet etching process assisted by a metal thin film. The thickness-dependent morphology of the metal layer produces uncovered nanometer-size regions which act as precursor sites for NW formation. The process is cheap, fast, maskless and compatible with Si technology. Very dense arrays of long (several micrometers) and small (diameter of 5–9 nm) NWs have been synthesized. An efficient room temperature luminescence, visible with the naked eye, is observed when NWs are optically excited, exhibiting a blue-shift with decreasing NW size in agreement with quantum confinement effects. A prototype device based on Si NWs has been fabricated showing a strong and stable electroluminescence at low voltages. The relevance and the perspectives of the reported results are discussed, opening the route toward novel applications of Si NWs.

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Kinetics of Si and Ge Nanowires Growth through Electron Beam Evaporation

Si and Ge have the same crystalline structure, and although Si-Au and Ge-Au binary alloys are thermodynamically similar (same phase diagram, with the eutectic temperature of about 360°C), in this study, it is proved that Si and Ge nanowires (NWs) growth by electron beam evaporation occurs in very different temperature ranges and fluence regimes. In particular, it is demonstrated that Ge growth occurs just above the eutectic temperature, while Si NWs growth occurs at temperature higher than the eutectic temperature, at about 450°C. Moreover, Si NWs growth requires a higher evaporated fluence before the NWs become to be visible. These differences arise in the different kinetics behaviors of these systems. The authors investigate the microscopic growth mechanisms elucidating the contribution of the adatoms diffusion as a function of the evaporated atoms direct impingement, demonstrating that adatoms play a key role in physical vapor deposition (PVD) NWs growth. The concept of incubation fluence, which is necessary for an interpretation of NWs growth in PVD growth conditions, is highlighted.

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Nanoscale amorphization, bending and recrystallization in silicon nanowires

Controllable and uniform doping of nanowires (NWs) is the ultimate challenge prior to their effective application. Si NWs amorphize and bend toward the impinging ions under ion irradiation as a result of viscous flow. We demonstrate that thermal annealing induces a full recovery of the crystalline phase corresponding to the unbending of the NWs. The competition between Solid Phase Epitaxy and Random Nucleation and Growth at the nanoscale is the key parameter controlling the recovery.

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Heteroepitaxial growth and faceting of Ge nanowires on (111) Si by electron beam evaporation

We demonstrated the heteroepitaxial growth of single-crystal faceted Ge nanowires (NWs) by electron-beam evaporation on top of Si(111) substrates. Despite the non-ultrahigh vacuum growth conditions, scanning electron microscope and transmission elec- tron microscope images show that NWs have specific crystallographic growth directions (111), (110), and (112) and that specific surface crystallographic planes (111) or (110) correspond to the (110) and (112) growth directions. Moreover, we studied in detail the Ge NWs structural properties. The temperature dependence of the NW length and of the frequency of each crystallographic orientation has been elucidated. Finally, the microscopic growth mechanisms have been investigated.

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Control of growth mechanisms and orientation in epitaxial Si nanowires grown by electron beam evaporation

The growth mechanisms of epitaxial Si nanowires (NWs) grown by electron beam evaporation (EBE) and catalyzed through gold droplets are identified. NWs are seen to grow both from adsorbed Si atoms diffusing from the substrate and forming a dip around them, and from directly impinging atoms. The growth of a 2D planar layer competing with the axial growth of the NWs is also observed and the experimental parameters determining which of the two processes prevails are identified. NWs with (111), (100) and (110) orientation have been found and the growth rate is observed to have a strong orientation dependence, suggesting a microscopic growth mechanism based on the atomic ordering along (110) ledges onto (111)-oriented terraces. By properly changing the range of experimental conditions we demonstrate how it is possible to favor the axial growth of the NWs, define their length and control their crystallographic orientation.

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Mechanism of boron diffusion in amorphous silicon

We have elucidated the mechanism for B migration in the amorphous (a-) Si network. B diffusivity in a-Si is much higher than in crystalline Si; it is transient and increases with B concentration up to 2 x 1020 B/cm3. At higher density, B atoms in a-Si quickly precipitate. B diffusion is indirect, mediated by dangling bonds (DB) present in a-Si. The density of DB is enhanced by B accommodation in the a-Si network and decreases because of a-Si relaxation. Accurate data simulations allow one to extract the DB diffusivity, whose activation energy is 2.6 eV. Implications of these results are discussed.

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Role of the Si excess on the excitation of Er doped SiOx

The authors have investigated the role of the Si excess on the photoluminescence properties of Er doped substoichiometric SiOx layers. They demonstrate that the Si excess has two competing roles: when agglomerated to form Si nanoclusters Si-nc’s it enhances the Er excitation efficiency but it also introduces new nonradiative decay channels. When Er is excited through an energy transfer from Si-nc’s, the beneficial effect on the enhanced excitation efficiency prevails and the Er emission increases with increasing Si content. However, when pumped resonantly, the Er luminescence intensity always decreases with increasing Si content. These data are presented and their implications are discussed.

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