Applied Physics Letters

Evolution of buried semiconductor nanostructures and origin of stepped surface mounds during capping

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The authors apply selective wet chemical etching and atomic force microscopy to reveal the three-dimensional shape of SiGeSi (001) islands after capping with Si. Although the "self-assembled quantum dots" remain practically unaffected by capping in the temperature range of 300-450 °C, significant morphological changes take place on the Si surface. At 450 °C, the morphology of the capping layer (Si matrix) evolves toward an intriguing semifacetted structure, which we call a "ziggurat," giving the misleading impression of a stepped SiGe island shape. © 2006 American Institute of Physics.