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Reversible Al Propagation in SixGe1–x Nanowires: Implications for Electrical Contact Formation

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posted on 29.09.2020, 21:29 by Minh Anh Luong, Eric Robin, Nicolas Pauc, Pascal Gentile, Thierry Baron, Bassem Salem, Masiar Sistani, Alois Lugstein, Maria Spies, Bruno Fernandez, Martien den Hertog
While reversibility is a fundamental concept in thermodynamics, most reactions are not readily reversible, especially in solid-state physics. For example, thermal diffusion is a widely known concept, used among others to inject dopants into the substitutional positions in the matrix and improve device properties. Typically, such a diffusion process will create a concentration gradient extending over increasingly large regions, without possibility to reverse this effect. On the other hand, while the bottom-up growth of semiconducting nanowires is interesting, it can still be difficult to fabricate axial heterostructures with high control. In this paper, we report a thermally assisted partially reversible thermal diffusion process occurring in the solid-state reaction between an Al metal pad and a SixGe1–x alloy nanowire observed by in situ transmission electron microscopy. The thermally assisted reaction results in the creation of a Si-rich region sandwiched between the reacted Al and unreacted SixGe1–x part, forming an axial Al/Si/SixGe1–x heterostructure. Upon heating or (slow) cooling, the Al metal can repeatably move in and out of the SixGe1–x alloy nanowire while maintaining the rodlike geometry and crystallinity, allowing to fabricate and contact nanowire heterostructures in a reversible way in a single process step, compatible with current Si-based technology. This interesting system is promising for various applications, such as phase change memories in an all crystalline system with integrated contacts as well as Si/SixGe1–x/Si heterostructures for near-infrared sensing applications.

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