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Self-assembled SiGe quantum rings grown on Si(001) by molecular beam

epitaxy
J. Cui, Q. He, X. M. Jiang, Y. L. Fan, X. J. Yang et al.
Citation: Appl. Phys. Lett. 83, 2907 (2003); doi: 10.1063/1.1616992
View online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.1616992
View Table of Contents: http://apl.aip.org/resource/1/APPLAB/v83/i14
Published by the American Institute of Physics.

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APPLIED PHYSICS LETTERS

VOLUME 83, NUMBER 14

6 OCTOBER 2003

Self-assembled SiGe quantum rings grown on Si001 by molecular


beam epitaxy
J. Cui
Surface Physics Laboratory (National Key Laboratory), Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China

Q. He and X. M. Jiang
BSRF, Institute of High Energy Physics, Beijing 100039, China

Y. L. Fan, X. J. Yang, F. Xue, and Z. M. Jianga)


Surface Physics Laboratory (National Key Laboratory), Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China

Received 11 July 2003; accepted 16 August 2003


SiGe quantum rings QRs were grown by partially capping on Ge quantum dots QDs on Si001.
Atomic force microscopy images show the shape transformation from QDs to QRs. Initial capping,
with a Si layer thickness less than 2 nm, will result in the decrease of height of QDs and increase
of base diameter of QDs. Capped with a Si layer, QDs will change into QRs. The mechanism of
transformation from QDs to QRs is discussed. The strain will redistribute after capping, thus the
strain energy relief, together with high Ge surface diffusion and Ge surface segregation at a relative
high temperature of 680 C, play the dominant role. 2003 American Institute of Physics.
DOI: 10.1063/1.1616992

Semiconductor nanostructures have many properties.


Based on those properties some relevant devices such as
quantum dots QDs laser, and single-electron transistor,
have been designed and manufactured. Recently a type nanostructure of quantum rings QRs has been introduced. In
1997 the experimental results of self-assembled QRs1 was
reported by capping a thin GaAs layer onto InAs QDs on
GaAs substrate. More recently, QR structure was also obtained by capping a thin InP layer onto InAs QDs on InP
substrate.2 In both cases QRs are transformed from InAs
QDs. Actually, only in IIIV system semiconductors have
the QR structures been observed so far by partially capping
QDs.2 To explain the formation of QRs two kinds of growth
models have been suggested. One is based on the minimum
of surface free energy,2,3 called the thermodynamic model.
The other is based on the strong surface diffusion of In
atoms,1,4,5 called the kinetic model. In both models, the strain
energy due to the lattice mismatch is not taken into account.
In this letter we report the growth of SiGe selfassembled QRs by partially capping Ge QDs on Si001 at a
relative high temperature of 680 C. The formation mechanism of SiGe QRs is discussed, in which the driving force is
attributed to the strain energy relief after capping together
with high Ge surface diffusion and Ge surface segregation.
The growth of QDs and QRs were carried out in a solid
source molecular beam exitaxy Riber Eva-32 system with
two electron beam evaporators as the Ge and Si sources. The
base pressure of system is better than 51010 Torr. The
substrate used was p-type Si001 wafer with the resistivity
of 110 cm. The substrates were chemically cleaned using
the Shiraki method.6 The protecting oxide on the substrate
surface was desorbed at 1000 C for 10 min in the growth
chamber. Then the substrate temperature was lowered to
a

Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; electronic mail:


zmjiang@fudan.ac.cn

0003-6951/2003/83(14)/2907/3/$20.00

2907

700 C, and a 50-nm-thick buffer layer was grown at a


growth rate of 0.08 nm/s. For QDs growth a two-step growth
method was employed to improve the uniformity of QDs.7,8
First, a 0.7-nm-thick Ge layer was deposited, followed by a 5
min interruption, and then a 0.05-nm-thick Ge layer was deposited. The growth temperature and growth rate were
680 C and 0.01 nm/s, respectively. The Si cap layer was
deposited with a growth rate of 0.06 nm/s at the same temperature of 680 C. After finishing Si cap layers deposition
the sample temperature was immediately cooled down to
room temperature. The morphologies of Ge dot and Si
capped Ge dot samples were observed by atomic force microscopy AFM Solver P47-SPM-MDT in contact mode in
air.
Figure 1 shows AFM images of Ge QDs samples capped
with Si layers of different thicknesses varied from 0.0 to 10.0
nm. Please pay attention to the height scales, which decrease
from Figs. 1a to 1f. The QR structures are clearly seen in
Figs. 1d and 1e after 2.6 and 4.0 nm Si capping, respectively. In order to see the shape transformation more clearly
with increasing Si cap layer thickness, Fig. 2 shows the
cross-section profiles of single dot or ring, which are extracted from Figs. 1a to 1e.
With the help of two-step growth method, the small size
hut shaped dots were suppressed.7 Dome shaped Ge QDs
with good size uniformity could be obtained at an appropriate Ge thickness. When a thin Si cap layer, for example with
a thickness of 1.0 nm as in the case of Fig. 1b, is deposited,
the dot diameter increases, whereas the dot height decreases.
The dot shape changes from dome to larger hut, as observed
by Kirfel et al.9 As more Si atoms are deposited a plateau
appears as shown in Fig. 1c. A similar plateau structure has
been reported by Sutter et al.10 at this stage. Si capping
would enlarge the plateau of hut shaped QDs in their case.
With a 2.6 nm Si layer deposited, the plateau becomes a
crater. The atoms in the center region of the plateau are de 2003 American Institute of Physics

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2908

Cui et al.

Appl. Phys. Lett., Vol. 83, No. 14, 6 October 2003

FIG. 1. AFM images of Ge QDs samples capped with Si layers of different


thicknesses of 0.0 a, 1.0 b, 1.6 c, 2.6 d, 4.0 e, and 10.0 nm f,
respectively. The temperature at which the Si cap layer was deposited is
680 C.

pleted and the height of dots is much decreased, thus forming


a ring shaped structure, namely QR structure. As shown in
Fig. 2 the height of dots decrease very quickly from b to
d. This means that the ring formation is very sensitive to
the cap layer thickness at the range from 1.0 to 3.0 nm, a
large amount of mass transportation occurs with the Si layer
capping. Furthermore, a thicker cap layer, such as 4.0 nm,
makes this mass redistribution more severe, the central hole
is broadened and ridge of rings becomes higher, as shown in
Fig. 1e. The ring shaped structure with an outer diameter of
about 200 nm, an inner diameter of about 100 nm, and a
ridge height of about 4 nm are formed. However, after 10.0
nm Si capping, no ring shaped structures are observed, and

FIG. 2. The cross-section profiles of the single nanostructures in Figs. 1a


1e. The base lines are shifted up according to the thicknesses of the Si cap
layer.

the surface becomes rather smooth with rms surface roughness of 0.39 nm as show in Fig. 1f.
As mentioned earlier, the ring shaped structures have
been obtained by partially capping InAs QD grown on both
GaAs and InP substrates. In order to explain the QD to QR
transformation, two different models have been suggested.
One is based on kinetic consideration,1,4,5 namely on the difference in surface diffusion rate of indium and gallium atoms. According to this model, mobile indium atoms diffuse
from the dot outwards, leaving a void at the original dot
location. The indium atoms diffuse into the surrounding
GaAs crystal and form an immobile InGaAs QRs. The other
model is based on thermodynamic consideration.2,3 The surface free energy change due to the thin layer overgrowth
creates an outward pointing force. Similar to a dewetting
process this force brings about the InAs QD material redistribution resulting in a ring shaped structure. In an InAs/
GaAs system, both mechanisms are needed to explain the
shape transformation from QD to QR. While in an InAs/InP
system, only the latter mechanism is effective in QD to QR
shape transformation.2
However, from the fact that self-organized Ge QD formation and growth is mainly governed by strain energy relief, and the growth transition from two-dimensional to
three-dimensional, namely islanding growth, is the initial
mechanism for strain energy relief. We believe that the QD
to QR shape transformation process is also mainly dominated by the strain energy relief. The thin Si cap layer covering the islands as a continuous blanket will have a larger
strain energy. At a relative high temperature many atomic
processes such as Ge surface diffusion and Ge surface segregation are activated to bring about a large amount of mass
transportation and minimize the total strain energy, resulting
in the QD to QR shape transformation.
Now let us discuss the detailed scenario of QD to QR
transformation from the strain energy relief viewpoint. Prior
to Si cap layer deposition, the QDs are partially strained as
verified previously by x-ray diffraction.11 The strain in dots
is partially relaxed by the deformation of the Si substrate
with nearly pure Ge composition and the highest degree of
strain relaxation near the QD top. The lattice constant decreases from top to bottom along the surface of QDs. At the
top region of QDs the lattice constant is close to that in bulk
Ge. The Si adatoms on the top region of QD will feel a
higher surface chemical potential, which rises from variation
in lattice mismatch with respect to the underlying Ge QD.
The gradient in the surface chemical potential or lattice mismatch will drive the Si adatoms on the top region of QD to
diffuse to its side surface. With more Si atoms accumulating
at side surface, the Ge atoms previously located on the top
region of QD will migrate to side surface by surface diffusion to alloy with Si atoms, resulting in a decrease in the
height and a increase in the base diameter of QD as shown in
Figs. 1b and 2. This process in which Ge atoms diffuse to
side surface to alloy with Si atoms could be also thought to
be driven by strain energy relief, because the lattice at side
surface matches SiGe alloy with varied Ge composition.
With more Si atoms deposited, more Ge atoms in the top
region of previous island will diffuse away to the side surface. Meanwhile, Ge atoms in the center region of QD will

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Cui et al.

Appl. Phys. Lett., Vol. 83, No. 14, 6 October 2003

2909

at which the Si cap layer is deposited is lower than a certain


value, such as 500 C no QR structures are observed after 4.0
nm Si capping, indicating this shape transformation from QD
to QR is temperature dependent. Figures 3a and 3b show
AFM images of QD samples after Si capping at 680 and
500 C, respectively. QR structures are clearly seen after capping at 680 C, whereas a smooth surface except for a few
small islands with a height of about 4 nm is observed after
capping at 500 C.
In summary, SiGe QRs have been observed by partially
capping Ge QDs on Si001. This QD to QR shape transformation is dependent on the cap layer thickness and substrate
temperature at which the capping layer is deposited. After
4.0 nm capping at 680 C, QRs were formed with an outer
diameter of about 200 nm, an inner diameter of about 100
nm, and a ridge height of about 4 nm. A kinetic mechanism
based on strain energy relief together with high Ge diffusion
and Ge segregation is suggested to explain the QD to QR
shape transformation.

FIG. 3. AFM images of QR structures formed after 5.2 nm Si capping at


680 C a, and a smooth surface except for a few small islands with a height
of about 4 nm after 4.0 nm Si capping at 500 C b. The initial QDs before
capping were grown at 680 C under identical conditions.

segregate to the surface to enhance Ge surface diffusion to


side surface. More mass transportation from the center part
to side surface of islands will take place, resulting in the
shape transformation from QD to QR as shown in Figs. 1e
or 2. Such a large amount of mass transportation is also
favorable to release the strain energy. On the one hand, it
could reduce the strain energy of accumulation of atoms on
the side surface of QD. On the other hand it will reduce the
strain energy in the center part of island, which is previously
partially strained.
Finally, we would mention two cases in which QR structures have not been observed. When thickness of the Si cap
layer is larger than a certain value such as 10 nm, there are
no QR structures on the surface as shown in Fig. 1f, leaving a rather smooth surface. Besides, when the temperature

This work was supported by NSFC Project Nos.


10174012 and 10174081, and partially supported by the special funds for Major State Basic Research Project No.
G2001CB3095 of China, and the special funds for the National Advanced Technology Research and Development.
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