Quantum Dot Self-Assembly Driven by a Surfactant-Induced Morphological Instability
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In strained heteroepitaxy, two-dimensional layers can exhibit a critical thickness at which three-dimensional islands self-assemble, relieving misfit strain at the cost of an increased surface area. Here we show that such a morphological phase transition can be induced on demand using surfactants. We explore Bi as a surfactant in the growth of InAs on GaAs(110), and find that the presence of surface Bi induces Stranski-Krastanov growth of 3D islands, while growth without Bi always favors 2D layer formation. Exposing a static two monolayer thick InAs layer to Bi rapidly transforms the layer into 3D islands. Density functional theory calculations reveal that Bi as well as Sb reduce the energetic cost of 3D island formation by modifying surface energies. These 3D nanostructures behave as optically active quantum dots. This work illustrates how surfactants can enable quantum dot self-assembly where it otherwise would not occur.
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