Photoluminescence enhancement of Ge quantum dots by exploiting the localized surface plasmon of epitaxial Ag islands
This dissertation presents research findings regarding the exploitation of localized surface plasmon (LSP) of epitaxial Ag islands as a means to enhance the photoluminescence (PL) of Germanium (Ge) quantum dots (QDs). The first step of this project was to investigate the growth of Ag islands on Si(100). Two distinct families of Ag islands have been observed. “Big islands” are clearly faceted and have basal dimensions in the few hundred nm to μm range with a variety of basal shapes. “Small islands” are not clearly faceted and have basal diameters in the 10s of nm range. Big islands form via a nucleation and growth mechanism, and small islands form via precipitation of Ag contained in a planar layer between the big islands that is thicker than the Stranski-Krastanov layer existing at room-temperature.
The pseudodielectric functions of epitaxial Ag islands on Si(100) substrates were investigated with spectroscopic ellipsometry. Comparing the experimental pseudodielectric functions obtained for Si with and without Ag islands clearly identifies a plasmon mode with its dipole moment perpendicular to the surface. This observation is confirmed using a simulation based on the thin island film (TIF) theory. Another mode parallel to the surface may be identified by comparing the experimental pseudodielectric functions with the simulated ones from TIF theory. Additional results suggest that the LSP energy of Ag islands can be tuned from the ultra-violet to the infrared range by an amorphous Si (α-Si) cap layer.
Heterostructures were grown that incorporated Ge QDs, an epitaxial Si cap layer and Ag islands grown atop the Si cap layer. Optimum growth conditions for distinct Ge dot ensembles and Si cap layers were obtained. The density of Ag islands grown on the Si cap layer depends on its thickness. Factors contributing to this effect may include the average strain and Ge concentration on the surface of the Si cap layer.
The effects of the Ag LSP on the PL of Ge coherent domes were investigated for both α-Si capped and bare Ag islands. For samples with low-doped substrates, the LSPs reduce the Ge dot-related PL when the Si cap layer is below some critical thickness and have no effect on the PL when the Si cap layer is above the critical thickness. For samples grown on highly-doped wafers, the LSP of bare Ag islands enhanced the PL of Ge QDs by ~ 40%.