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Synthesis of nanostructures in nanowires using sequential catalyst reactions


Nanowire growth by the vapour–liquid–solid (VLS) process enables a high level of control over nanowire composition, diameter, growth direction, branching and kinking, periodic twinning, and crystal structure. The tremendous impact of VLS-grown nanowires is due to this structural versatility, generating applications ranging from solid-state lighting and single-photon sources to thermoelectric devices. Here, we show that the morphology of these nanostructures can be further tailored by using the liquid droplets that catalyse nanowire growth as a ‘mixing bowl’, in which growth materials are sequentially supplied to nucleate new phases. Growing within the liquid, these phases adopt the shape of faceted nanocrystals that are then incorporated into the nanowires by further growth. We demonstrate this concept by epitaxially incorporating metal-silicide nanocrystals into Si nanowires with defect-free interfaces, and discuss how this process can be generalized to create complex nanowire-based heterostructures.

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Figure 1: TEM images showing Ni silicide formation and incorporation in Si nanowires.
Figure 2: The docking of a silicide particle with its nanowire.
Figure 3: Ni silicide nucleation in Au–Ni nanocrystals deposited on silicon nitride membranes.
Figure 4: Nanocrystal formation in different materials.


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Supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. DMR-0606395 and 0907483 (Y.-C.C.), ERC Grant 279342: InSituNANO (F.P. and S.H.), the National Science Council of Taiwan under Grant No. NSC-101-2112-M-009-021-MY3 (Y.-C.C.), the Center for Interdisciplinary Science under the MOE-ATU project for NCTU (Y.-C.C.) and the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory, which is supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under contract DE-AC02-98CH10886 (D.Z. and E.A.S.). The authors acknowledge A. Gamalski for assistance with high-resolution imaging, C. Czarnik for assistance with image processing and A. Ellis for technical support.

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Authors and Affiliations



F.P. and Y.-C.C. performed experiments and data analysis, M.C.R. developed the UHV-TEM technique, D.Z. and E.A.S. performed high-resolution ETEM experiments, and S.H. and F.M.R. designed the experiments and coordinated the analysis.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to S. Hofmann or F. M. Ross.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Panciera, F., Chou, YC., Reuter, M. et al. Synthesis of nanostructures in nanowires using sequential catalyst reactions. Nature Mater 14, 820–825 (2015).

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