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The hetero-epitaxial strain relaxation in nano-scale systems plays a fundamental role in shaping their properties. Here, the elastic and plastic relaxation of self-assembled SiGe islands grown by surface-thermal-diffusion from a local Ge solid source on Si(100) are studied by atomic force and transmission electron microscopies, enabling the simultaneous investigation of the strain relaxation in different dynamical regimes. Islands grown by this technique remain dislocation-free and preserve a structural coherence with the substrate for a base width as large as 350 nm. The results indicate that a delay of the plastic relaxation is promoted by an enhanced Si-Ge intermixing, induced by the surface-thermal-diffusion, which takes place already in the SiGe overlayer before the formation of a critical nucleus. The local entropy of mixing dominates, leading the system toward a thermodynamic equilibrium, where non …
AIP Publishing LLC
Publication date: 
14 Mar 2015

Giovanni Maria Vanacore, G Nicotra, Maurizio Zani, Monica Bollani, E Bonera, F Montalenti, G Capellini, Giovanni Isella, Johann Osmond, A Picco, F Boioli, Alberto Tagliaferri

Biblio References: 
Volume: 117 Issue: 10 Pages: 104309
Journal of Applied Physics