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Growth of nanowire superlattice structures for nanoscale photonics and electronics


The assembly of semiconductor nanowires and carbon nanotubes into nanoscale devices and circuits could enable diverse applications in nanoelectronics and photonics1. Individual semiconducting nanowires have already been configured as field-effect transistors2, photodetectors3 and bio/chemical sensors4. More sophisticated light-emitting diodes5 (LEDs) and complementary and diode logic6,7,8 devices have been realized using both n- and p-type semiconducting nanowires or nanotubes. The n- and p-type materials have been incorporated in these latter devices either by crossing p- and n-type nanowires2,5,6,9 or by lithographically defining distinct p- and n-type regions in nanotubes8,10, although both strategies limit device complexity. In the planar semiconductor industry, intricate n- and p-type and more generally compositionally modulated (that is, superlattice) structures are used to enable versatile electronic and photonic functions. Here we demonstrate the synthesis of semiconductor nanowire superlattices from group III–V and group IV materials. (The superlattices are created within the nanowires by repeated modulation of the vapour-phase semiconductor reactants during growth of the wires.) Compositionally modulated superlattices consisting of 2 to 21 layers of GaAs and GaP have been prepared. Furthermore, n-Si/p-Si and n-InP/p-InP modulation doped nanowires have been synthesized. Single-nanowire photoluminescence, electrical transport and electroluminescence measurements show the unique photonic and electronic properties of these nanowire superlattices, and suggest potential applications ranging from nano-barcodes to polarized nanoscale LEDs.

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Figure 1: Synthesis of nanowire superlattices.
Figure 2: GaAs/GaP nanowire junctions.
Figure 3: Nanowire superlattice structures.
Figure 4: Modulation-doped nanowires.


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We thank X. Duan for discussions, and W. MoberlyChan and A. J. Garratt-Reed for assistance with TEM imaging and analysis. M.S.G. thanks the NSF for predoctoral fellowship support. C.M.L. acknowledges support of this work by the Office of Naval Research and Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency.

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Correspondence to Charles M. Lieber.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Gudiksen, M., Lauhon, L., Wang, J. et al. Growth of nanowire superlattice structures for nanoscale photonics and electronics. Nature 415, 617–620 (2002).

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