Semiconductor nanowires composed of III-V materials have enormous potential to add new functionality to electronics and optical applications. However, integration of these promising structures into applications is severely limited by the current near-universal reliance on gold nanoparticles as seeds for nanowire fabrication. Although highly controlled fabrication is achieved, this metal is entirely incompatible with the Si-based electronics industry. It also presents limitations for the extension of nanowire research towards novel materials not existing in bulk. To date, exploration of alternatives has been limited to selective-area and self-seeded processes, both of which have major limitations in terms of size and morphology control, potential to combine materials, and crystal structure tuning. There is also very little understanding of precisely why gold has proven so successful for nanowire growth, and which alternatives may yield comparable or better results. The aim of this project will be to explore alternative nanoparticle seed materials to go beyond the use of gold in III-V nanowire fabrication. This will be achieved using a unique and recently developed capability for aerosol-phase fabrication of highly controlled nanoparticles directly integrated with conventional nanowire fabrication equipment. The primary goal will be to deepen the understanding of the nanowire fabrication process, and the specific advantages (and limitations) of gold as a seed material, in order to develop and optimize alternatives. The use of a wide variety of seed particle materials in nanowire fabrication will greatly broaden the variety of novel structures that can be fabricated. The results will also transform the nanowire fabrication research field, in order to develop important connections between nanowire research and the semiconductor industry, and to greatly improve the viability of nanowire integration into future devices.
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