Strain-Energy Release in Bent Semiconductor Nanowires Occurring by Polygonization or Nanocrack Formation

Zhiyuan Sun, Chunyi Huang, Jinglong Guo, Jason T. Dong, Robert F. Klie, Lincoln J. Lauhon*, David N. Seidman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Strain engineering of semiconductors is used to modulate carrier mobility, tune the energy bandgap, and drive growth of self-assembled nanostructures. Understanding strain-energy relaxation mechanisms including phase transformations, dislocation nucleation and migration, and fracturing is essential to both exploit this degree of freedom and avoid degradation of carrier lifetime and mobility, particularly in prestrained electronic devices and flexible electronics that undergo large changes in strain during operation. Raman spectroscopy, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, and electron diffraction are utilized to identify strain-energy release mechanisms of bent diamond-cubic silicon (Si) and zinc-blende GaAs nanowires, which were elastically strained to >6% at room temperature and then annealed at an elevated temperature to activate relaxation mechanisms. High-temperature annealing of bent Si-nanowires leads to the nucleation, glide, and climb of dislocations, which align themselves to form grain boundaries, thereby reducing the strain energy. Herein, Si nanowires are reported to undergo polygonization, which is the formation of polygonal-shaped grains separated by grain boundaries consisting of aligned edge dislocations. Furthermore, strain is shown to drive dopant diffusion. In contrast to the behavior of Si, GaAs nanowires release strain energy by forming nanocracks in regions of tensile strain due to the weakening of As-bonds. These insights into the relaxation behavior of highly strained crystals can inform the design of nanoelectronic devices and provide guidance on mitigating degradation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3730-3738
Number of pages9
JournalACS nano
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 26 2019


  • dislocation
  • nanocrack
  • nanowire
  • plastic deformation
  • polygonization
  • strain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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