In-situ fabrication and characterization of ordered Ge QDs in Si3N4 matrix without barrier layers by rf-magnetron sputtering

Sammy Lee*, Shujuan Huang, Gavin Conibeer, Martin Green

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


In this work, in-situ fabrication and characterization of ordered arrays of germanium (Ge) quantum dots (QDs) embedded in silicon nitride matrix were studied. A single layer of Ge and Si3N4 composite was deposited by rf-magnetron sputtering with substrate heating. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Raman spectroscopy were used to investigate structural properties of the Ge QDs. TEM images showed that uniformly sized Ge QDs were formed in diagonal QD arrays grown from the substrate. The average size estimated from XRD was in agreement with the QD size observed in TEM images. Chemical composition of the films was analyzed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), confirming the Ge0 state of the Ge–Ge bond in the QDs. Phonon confinement in the QDs was demonstrated by phonon peak broadening in Raman spectra. The confinement and stress effect resulted in phonon peak shifting to 297 cm−1. With decreasing QD size, E1 and E2 transitions estimated from spectroscopic ellipsometry were blue-shifted, indicating the quantum confinement effect. This closely spaced Ge QD structure would be potentially advantageous for third generation photovoltaic applications as this structure could improve electrical conductivity while confining the QD growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-171
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Surface Science
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Germanium quantum dots
  • Quantum confinement
  • Self-assembled growth
  • Silicon nitride


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