Kinetic frustratation of Ostwald ripening in Ge/Si(100) hut ensembles

M.R. McKay, J.A. Venables and J. Drucker
Solid State Communications 149 (2009) 1403-1409


We show that low area density Ge/Si(100) island ensembles comprised solely of hut and pyramid clusters do not undergo Ostwald ripening during days-long growth temperature anneals. In contrast, a very low density of large, low chemical potential Ge islands reduce the supersaturation causing the huts and pyramids to ripen. By assuming that huts lengthen by adding single {105} planes that grow from apex-to-base, we use a mean-field facet nucleation model to interpret these experimental observations. We find that each newly completed plane replenishes the nucleation site at the hut apex and depletes the Ge supersaturation by a fixed amount. This provides a feedback mechanism that reduces the island growth rate. As long as the supersaturation remains high enough to support nucleation of additional planes on the narrowest hut cluster, Ostwald ripening is suppressed on an experimental time scale.

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Latest version of this document: 22nd February 2010.