Breakthrough in Nanowire Crystal Phase Control

Jülich, 19. October 2020

Researches of the Peter Grünberg Institute developed a pathway to control the crystal phase of GaAs nanowires (NWs) on silicon surfaces.

This discovery represents a major advance in the field of NW crystal phase engineering as the crucial basis for application of NWs in advanced laser devices and single-photon sources. The results are published in ACS Applied Nano Materials.

In recent years, nanowires (NWs) featured enormous potential for advanced nano-optoelectronic applications. With their high aspect ratio (diameters of about 100 nanometers and length of multiple micrometers), these nanostructures yield exciting emission and absorption properties, which are flexible and particularly suited for integrated photonics with low-threshold lasers and single-photon emitters for quantum computing directly on silicon chips.

Since the first published work on molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) of self-catalyzed GaAs ND by Fontcuberta I Moral in 2008, scientists around the world focused their work on controlling the crystal phase of these ND. GaAs ND grow in wurtzite (WZ) and zincblende (ZB) crystal structure, both configurations have different mechanical, electrical and optical properties. Previously, the growth of phase-pure WZ GaAs ND required the use of a foreign catalyst such as gold, but this contaminates the GaAs ND and significantly affects the optical and electrical properties. Apart from this approach, the growth of phase-pure WZ GaAs ND by self-catalyzed MBE has been impossible.

Figure 1. A) Schematic of the nanowire growth model. b) The time evolution of the Ga flux calculated for the stabilization of the phase-pure WZ nanowire growth. The blue curve was calculated using the developed model, while the red curve corresponds to the measured Ga flux (BEP).
Forschungszentrum Jülich

In early 2020, Panciera et al. discovered that the preferred crystal structure of GaAs ND (either WZ or ZB) is related to the stabilization of a specific contact angle regime during MBE growth. This finding paved the way for phase control of self-catalyzed GaAs ND. Building on this preliminary work, researchers at the Peter Grünberg Institute at Forschungszentrum Jülich developed a comprehensive kinetic growth model, which was calibrated using more than 600 individually studied NDs to quantify the time evolution of nanowire length and contact angle. The growth model was applied to dynamically modify the Ga flux during growth, thereby controlling and stabilizing the contact angle in a range that favors the growth of phase-pure WZ GaAs ND. Extensive analysis of the samples by transmission electron microscopy demonstrated the growth of self-catalyzed GaAs ND with 99-100% phase-pure WZ crystal structure on pre-patterned substrates for the first time in the world.

Figure 2. TEM image (in [112 ̅0] zone axis) of an exemplary ND with a 99.9% phase-pure WZ crystal structure and [112 ̅0] side facets. The insets show the HR-TEM overviews of the three main sections of the ND with the respective Fast Fourier Formation (FFT) of the section.
Forschungszentrum Jülich

The developed model and associated growth strategy of phase-pure ND are not limited to self-catalyzed GaAs ND, but can be applied to the synthesis of phase-pure ND from various III/V material systems. The results represent a major advance in the field of ND growth and provide the critical foundation for the application of ND in advanced lasers and single photon sources for quantum communications.

Original publication:
“Phase-Pure Wurtzite GaAs Nanowires Grown by Self-Catalyzed Selective Area Molecular Beam Epitaxy for Advanced Laser Devices and Quantum Disks” by Marvin M. Jansen, Pujitha Perla, Mane Kaladzhian, Nils von den Driesch, Johanna Janssen, Martina Luysberg, Mihail I. Lepsa, Detlev Grützmacher and Alexander Pawlis

ACS Applied Nano Materials, 2020 (ASAP)

Last Modified: 12.08.2022