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Open Access Nano Express

Ultra-steep side facets in multi-faceted SiGe/Si(001) Stranski-Krastanow islands

Moritz Brehm*, Herbert Lichtenberger, Thomas Fromherz and Gunther Springholz

Author Affiliations

Institut für Halbleiter und Festkörperphysik, Universität Linz, 4040 Linz, Austria

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:70  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-70

Published: 12 January 2011

Abstract

For the prototypical Ge/Si(001) system, we show that at high growth temperature a new type of Stranski-Krastanow islands is formed with side facets steeper than {111} and high aspect ratio. Nano-goniometric analysis of the island shapes reveals the presence of six new facet groups in addition to those previously found for dome or barn-shaped islands. Due to the highly multi-faceted island shape and high aspect ratio, the new island types are named "cupola" islands and their steepest {12 5 3} side facet is inclined by 68°to the substrate surface. Assessing the relative stability of the new facets from surface area analysis, we find that their stability is similar to that of {113} and {15 3 23} facets of dome islands. The comparison of the different island shapes shows that they form a hierarchical class of geometrical structures, in which the lower aspect ratio islands of barns, domes and pyramids are directly derived from the cupola islands by successive truncation of the pedestal bases without facet rearrangements. The results underline the key role of surface faceting in the process of island formation, which is as crucial for understanding the island's growth evolution as it is important for device applications.