Nano Letters

Au transport in catalyst coarsening and Si nanowire formation

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The motion of Au between AuSi liquid eutectic droplets, both before and during vapor-liquid-solid growth, is important in controlling tapering and diameter uniformity in Si nanowires. We measure the kinetics of coarsening of AuSi droplets on Si(001) and Si(111), quantifying the size evolution of droplets during annealing in ultrahigh vacuum using in situ transmission electron microscopy. For individual droplets, we show that coarsening kinetics are modified when disilane or oxygen is added: coarsening rates increase in the presence of disilane but decrease in oxygen. Matching droplet size measurements on Si(001) with coarsening models confirms that Au transport is driven by capillary forces and that the kinetic coefficients depend on the gas environment present. We suggest that the gas effects are qualitatively similar whether transport is attachment limited or diffusion limited. These results provide insight into manipulating nanowire morphologies for advanced device fabrication. © 2014 American Chemical Society.