Studies of epitaxial silicon nanowire growth at low temperature
Silicon nanowires were grown epitaxially on Si (100) and (111) surfaces using the Vapor-Liquid-Solid (VLS) mechanism under both thermal and plasma enhanced growth conditions. Nanowire morphology was investigated as a function of temperature, time, disilane partial pressure and substrate preparation. Silicon nanowires synthesized in low temperature plasma typically curved compared to the linear nanowires grown under simple thermal conditions. The nanowires tended bend more with increasing disilane partial gas pressure up to 25 x10-3 mTorr. The nanowire curvature measured geometrically is correlated with the shift of the main silicon peak obtained in Raman spectroscopy. A mechanistic hypothesis was proposed to explain the bending during plasma activated growth. Additional driving forces related to electrostatic and Van der Waals forces were also discussed. Deduced from a systematic variation of a three-step experimental protocol, the mechanism for bending was associated with asymmetric deposition rate along the outer and inner wall of nanowire. The conditions leading to nanowire branching were also examined using a two-step growth process. Branching morphologies were examined as a function of plasma powers between 1.5 W and 3.5 W. Post-annealing thermal and plasma-assisted treatments in hydrogen were compared to understand the influences in the absence of an external silicon source (otherwise supplied by disilane). Longer and thicker nanowires were associated with longer annealing times due to an Ostwald-like ripening effect. The roles of surface diffusion, gas diffusion, etching and deposition rates were examined.