Size-dependent characterization of embedded Ge nanocrystals: Structural and thermal properties

L. L. Araujo, R. Giulian, D. J. Sprouster, C. S. Schnohr, D. J. Llewellyn, P. Kluth, D. J. Cookson, G. J. Foran, M. C. Ridgway
<span title="2008-09-25">2008</span> <i title="American Physical Society (APS)"> <a target="_blank" rel="noopener" href="" style="color: black;">Physical Review B</a> </i> &nbsp;
A combination of conventional and synchrotron-based techniques has been used to characterize the sizedependent structural and thermal properties of Ge nanocrystals ͑NCs͒ embedded in a silica ͑a-SiO 2 ͒ matrix. Ge NC size distributions with four different diameters ranging from 4.0 to 9.0 nm were produced by ion implantation and thermal annealing as characterized with small-angle x-ray scattering and transmission electron microscopy. The NCs were well represented by the superposition of bulklike
more &raquo; ... crystalline and amorphous environments, suggesting the formation of an amorphous layer separating the crystalline NC core and the a-SiO 2 matrix. The amorphous fraction was quantified with x-ray-absorption near-edge spectroscopy and increased as the NC diameter decreased, consistent with the increase in surface-to-volume ratio. The structural parameters of the first three nearest-neighbor shells were determined with extended x-ray-absorption finestructure ͑EXAFS͒ spectroscopy and evolved linearly with inverse NC diameter. Specifically, increases in total disorder, interatomic distance, and the asymmetry in the distribution of distances were observed as the NC size decreased, demonstrating that finite-size effects govern the structural properties of embedded Ge NCs. Temperature-dependent EXAFS measurements in the range of 15-300 K were employed to probe the mean vibrational frequency and the variation of the interatomic distance distribution ͑mean value, variance, and asymmetry͒ with temperature for all NC distributions. A clear trend of increased stiffness ͑higher vibrational frequency͒ and decreased thermal expansion with decreasing NC size was evident, confirming the close relationship between the variation of structural and thermal/vibrational properties with size for embedded Ge NCs. The increase in surface-to-volume ratio and the presence of an amorphous Ge layer separating the matrix and crystalline NC core are identified as the main factors responsible for the observed behavior, with the surrounding a-SiO 2 matrix also contributing to a lesser extent. Such results are compared to previous reports and discussed in terms of the influence of the surface-to-volume ratio in objects of nanometer dimensions.
<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="">doi:10.1103/physrevb.78.094112</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="">fatcat:76yomugfxfextgvnu3bnz2qj3e</a> </span>
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