Modeling of the growth of GaAs-AlGaAs core-shell nanowires

Qian Zhang*, Peter W. Voorhees, Stephen H. Davis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Heterostructured GaAs-AlGaAs core-shell nanowires with have attracted much attention because of their significant advantages and great potential for creating high performance nanophotonics and nanoelectronics. The spontaneous formation of Al-rich stripes along certain crystallographic directions and quantum dots near the apexes of the shell are observed in AlGaAs shells. Controlling the formation of these core-shell heterostructures remains challenging. A two-dimensional model valid on the wire cross section, that accounts for capillarity in the faceted surface limit and deposition has been developed for the evolution of the shell morphology and concentration in AlxGa1-xAs alloys. The model includes a completely faceted shell-vapor interface. The objective is to understand the mechanisms of the formation of the radial heterostructures (Al-rich stripes and Al-poor quantum dots) in the nanowire shell. There are two issues that need to be understood. One is the mechanism responsible for the morphological evolution of the shells. Analysis and simulation results suggest that deposition introduces facets not present on the equilibrium Wulff shapes. A balance between diffusion and deposition yields the small facets with sizes varying slowly over time, which yield stripe structures,whereas deposition-dominated growth can lead to quantum-dot structures observed in experiments. There is no self-limiting facet size in this case. The other issue is the mechanism responsible for the segregation of Al atoms in the shells. It is found that the mobility difference of the atoms on the (112) and (110) facets together determine the non-uniform concentration of the atoms in the shell. In particular, even though the mobility of Al on (110) facets is smaller than that of Ga, Al-rich stripes are predicted to form along the (112) facets when the difference of the mobilities of Al and Ga atoms is sufficiently large on (112) facets. As the size of the shell increases, deposition becomes more important. The Al-poor dots are obtained at the apices of (112) facets, if the attachment rate of Al atoms is smaller there.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-513
Number of pages8
JournalBeilstein Journal of Nanotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017


  • Core-shell nanowires
  • Heterostructures
  • Mechanisms
  • Quantum dots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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