Tailoring Semiconductor Crystal to atomic dimensions


  • Prof. Bruce A. Joyce

    1. University of London Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Semiconductor Materials, The Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College Prince Consort Road, London SW72BZ (UK)
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  • The author is grateful to his ex-colleagues at Philips Research Laboratories for their invaluable contributions over the years. Particular thanks on this occasion are due to Jon Gowers for permission to use his micrograph of the superlattice which was grown by David Hilton. I also wish to thank Steve Pringle of VG Semicon for providing the material for Figure 1.


This article provides an introduction to the growth by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) of semiconductor structures which have dimensions of the same order as interatomic distances in solids. The basic process technology is first described, followed by a brief account of surface reaction mechanisms involved in the growth of GaAs from an atomic beam of Ga and molecular beams of As4 and As2.

From the study of growth dynamics using electron diffraction techniques it is shown how reduced dimensionality structures can be grown and some indication is given of the effects of quantum confinement on material properties. Finally, some recent modifications of MBE based on flux interruption are described.