Step edge barriers versus step edge relaxation in GaAs:Sn molecular beam epitaxy

A. M. Dabiran, S. M. Seutter, S. Stoyanov, M. C. Bartelt, J. W. Evans, Philip I Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Sn strongly segregates to the surface during MBE growth. We have previously proposed a microscopic mechanism for this process in which Sn can incorporate into either a substitutional site or into a surface interstitial site. These two sites compete with each other resulting in two main effects: (1) strain causes an initial surface roughening that has a characteristic length at 1000 nm and a corrugation height of about 5 ML and (2) a subsequent enhanced layer growth mode due to the strain driven formation of small islands. As growth proceeds, 2D islands nucleate on terraces, grow in size, and then coalesce at layer completions. In situ STM and ex situ AFM on quenched GaAs:Sn surfaces show that above descending step edges during growth there are zones denuded of islands. The focus of this paper is to consider the implications and causes of these denuded zones. We examine whether these denuded zones could be due to (1) the removal of step edge barriers or (2) an inhibition of nucleation due to strain. During growth on vicinal surfaces in the presence of Sn, the specular reflection high-energy electron diffraction (RHEED) intensity oscillates at a frequency which can be up to 15% faster than the monolayer growth rate. We propose that the relative change in the apparent growth rate is proportional to the ratio of the denuded length to the terrace length. We further demonstrate that the incoherent addition of oscillations in the diffracted intensity with different frequencies gives rise to the very strong beats observed during growth. The results are compared to Monte Carlo calculations. Of the mechanisms considered we conclude that only nucleation inhibited by strain can explain the data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-141
Number of pages11
JournalSurface Science
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Sep 10 1999
EventProceedings of the 1998 International Symposium on Surface and Interface: Properties of Different Symmetry Crossing 98 (ISSI PDSC-98) - Tokyo, Jpn
Duration: Nov 19 1998Nov 21 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work at Minnesota was partially supported by the National Science Foundation (DMR-9618656). MCB was supported at Sandia for this work by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Science, of the USDOE under Contract No. DE-AC04-94AL85000. JWE was supported for this work by NSF Grant CHE-9700592. It was performed at Ames Laboratory which is operated for the USDOE by Iowa State University under Contract No. W-7405-Eng-82. PIC is grateful to E. Vlieg for helpful discussions.


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