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We present a new concept applicable to the epitaxial growth of dislocation-free semiconductor structures on a mismatched substrate with a thickness far exceeding the conventional critical thickness for plastic strain relaxation. This innovative concept is based on the out-of-equilibrium growth of compositionally graded alloys on deeply patterned substrates. We obtain space-filling arrays of individual crystals several micrometers wide in which the mechanism of strain relaxation is fundamentally changed from plastic to elastic. The complete absence of dislocations at and near the heterointerface may pave the way to realize CMOS integrated SiGe X-ray detectors.
By transmission electron microscopy with extended Burgers vector analyses, we demonstrate the edge and screw character of vertical dislocations (VDs) in novel SiGe heterostructures. The investigated pillar-shaped Ge epilayers on prepatterned Si(001) substrates are an attempt to avoid the high defect densities of lattice mismatched heteroepitaxy. The Ge pillars are almost completely strain-relaxed and essentially defect-free, except for the rather unexpected VDs. We investigated both pillar-shaped and unstructured Ge epilayers grown either by molecular beam epitaxy or by chemical vapor deposition to derive a general picture of the underlying dislocation mechanisms. For the Burgers vector analysis we used a combination of dark field imaging and large-angle convergent beam electron diffraction (LACBED). With LACBED simulations we identify ideally suited zeroth and second order Laue zone Bragg lines for an unambiguous determination of the three-dimensional Burgers vectors. By analyzing dislocation reactions we confirm the origin of the observed types of VDs, which can be efficiently distinguished by LACBED. The screw type VDs are formed by a reaction of perfect 60° dislocations, whereas the edge types are sessile dislocations that can be formed by cross-slips and climbing processes. The understanding of these origins allows us to suggest strategies to avoid VDs.
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