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Daria Vyacheslavovna Beznasyuk

Axial GaAs/InAs nanowire heterostructures for photonic applications on Si

Published on 24 September 2018

Thesis presented September 24, 2018

Combining direct bandgap III-V compound semiconductors, such as InAs and GaAs, with silicon to realize on-chip optical light emitters and detectors at telecommunication wavelengths is an important technological objective. However, traditional thin film epitaxy of InAs and GaAs on silicon is challenging because of the high lattice mismatch between the involved materials. These epitaxial thin films exhibit a poor quality at the interface with silicon, limiting the performance of future devices. Nanowires can overcome the mismatch challenge owing to their small lateral size and high aspect ratio. Thanks to their free, unconstrained surfaces, nanowires release the mismatch strain via elastic lateral relaxation. In this context, my thesis aimed at growing axial GaAs/InAs nanowire heterostructures on silicon substrates to realize on-chip, integrated, single-photon emitters. In this experimental work, I grew nanowires by gold-assisted vapor liquid solid mechanism in a molecular beam epitaxy reactor. The nanowires were then characterized using energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy to evaluate their composition and crystalline structure. Strain distribution was studied experimentally using geometrical phase analysis and compared theoretically with finite element simulations, performed with the COMSOL software. During this thesis, I tackled different challenges inherent to axial nanowire heterostructures, such as kinking during material exchange, compositionally graded interfaces, and radial overgrowth. First, I developed an optimized a growth protocol to prevent the formation of kinks. Kinks usually appear when the gold catalyst at the nanowire tip has been destabilized. By keeping a high supersaturation in the gold droplet during the entire growth procedure, straight InAs-on-GaAs nanowires were achieved with a yield exceeding 90%. By a careful tuning of the material fluxes supplied during growth, I significantly improved the interface sharpness between the InAs and GaAs nanowire segments: the use of a high In flux during the growth of the InAs segment resulted in a 5 nm composition gradient at the InAs/GaAs interface. Through the careful analysis of the nanowires’ chemical composition, I observed that the nominally pure InAs segments grown on top of GaAs are in fact ternary InxGa1-xAs alloys. I found out that Ga incorporation in the nominal InAs segment is due to the diffusion of Ga adatoms thermally created on the GaAs nanowire sidewalls and on the two-dimensional GaAs layer grown on silicon substrate. I demonstrated that the use of large nanowire diameters prevents Ga diffusion along the nanowire sidewalls, resulting in the growth of pure InAs segments on top of GaAs. Finally, I studied how 7% mismatch strain at the InAs/GaAs interface is distributed along the nanowire, depending on the nanowire diameter and interface sharpness. I observed that nanowires with diameters below 40 nm are free of misfit dislocations regardless of the interface sharpness: strain is fully, elastically released via crystalline planes bending close to the nanowire sidewalls. On the other hand, nanowires with diameters above 95 nm at the interface exhibit strain relaxation, both elastically and plastically, via plane bending and the formation of misfit dislocations, respectively. In conclusion, I have successfully fabricated highly mismatched heterostructures, confirming the prediction that axial GaAs/InAs interfaces are pseudomorphic below a certain critical diameter. These findings establish a first step towards the realization of high quality InAs quantum dots in GaAs nanowires on silicon: a promising system for on-chip single photon emission.

Strain relaxation, Nanowires, Semiconductors, Quantum optics, Crystal growth, Molecular Beam Epitaxy

On-line thesis.