Synergetic nanowire growth

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Interest in nanowires continues to grow because they hold the promise of monolithic integration of high-performance semiconductors with new functionality1,2,3,4,5 into existing silicon technology6,7,8. Most nanowires are grown using vapour–liquid–solid growth9, and despite many years of study this growth mechanism remains under lively debate. In particular, the role of the metal particle is unclear10,11,12. For instance, contradictory results have been reported on the effect of particle size on nanowire growth rate13,14,15,16,17,18. Additionally, nanowire growth from a patterned array of catalysts19,20 has shown that small wire-to-wire spacing leads to materials competition and a reduction in growth rates21. Here, we report on a counterintuitive synergetic effect resulting in an increase of the growth rate for decreasing wire-to-wire distance. We show that the growth rate is proportional to the catalyst area fraction. The effect has its origin in the catalytic decomposition of precursors and is applicable to a variety of nanowire materials and growth techniques.

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Figure 1: SEM images of GaP nanowire patterns.
Figure 2: Cross-sectional SEM image of nanowires grown from a pattern of gold catalysts with different sizes.
Figure 3: Nanowire growth dependent on catalyst surface fraction.
Figure 4: Schematic nanowire growth model.


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The authors thank F. Holthuysen for SEM imaging, C. Latta for programming the SEM image analysis tool and R. Bolt for graphical assistance. We acknowledge M. A. Verheijen, L.-F. Feiner and R. Balkenende for useful discussions. This work was supported by the European Marie Curie program, the FP6 NODE (015783) project, Dutch Institute of Metal Research (NIMR, MC3.05243) and the ministry of economic affairs of the Netherlands (NanoNed).

Author information

M.T.B. and E.P.A.M.B. conceived and designed the experiments and co-wrote the paper. B.K. fabricated the e-beam patterns and G.I. is responsible for the MOVPE growth. M.T.B., E.P.A.M.B. and R.A. analysed the data.

Correspondence to Erik P.A.M. Bakkers.

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Borgström, M., Immink, G., Ketelaars, B. et al. Synergetic nanowire growth. Nature Nanotech 2, 541–544 (2007) doi:10.1038/nnano.2007.263

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