The precise knowledge of the atomic order in monocrystalline alloys is fundamental to understand and predict their physical properties. With this perspective, we utilized laser-assisted atom probe tomography to investigate the three-dimensional distribution of atoms in nonequilibrium epitaxial Sn-rich group-IV SiGeSn ternary semiconductors. Different atom probe statistical analysis tools including frequency distribution analysis, partial radial distribution functions, and nearest-neighbor analysis were employed in order to evaluate and compare the behavior of the three elements to their spatial distributions in an ideal solid solution. This atomistic-level analysis provided clear evidence of an unexpected repulsive interaction between Sn and Si leading to the deviation of Si atoms from the theoretical random distribution. This departure from an ideal solid solution is supported by first-principles calculations and attributed to the tendency of the system to reduce its mixing enthalpy throughout the layer-by-layer growth process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics