• nanostructured Si;
  • Ge heteroepitaxy;
  • silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrates;
  • grazing-incidence X-ray diffraction;
  • transmission electron microscopy (TEM)

On the way to integrate lattice mismatched semiconductors on Si(001), the Ge/Si heterosystem was used as a case study for the concept of compliant substrate effects that offer the vision to be able to integrate defect-free alternative semiconductor structures on Si. Ge nanoclusters were selectively grown by chemical vapour deposition on Si nano-islands on silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrates. The strain states of Ge clusters and Si islands were measured by grazing-incidence diffraction using a laboratory-based X-ray diffraction technique. A tensile strain of up to 0.5% was detected in the Si islands after direct Ge deposition. Using a thin (∼10 nm) SiGe buffer layer between Si and Ge the tensile strain increases to 1.8%. Transmission electron microscopy studies confirm the absence of a regular grid of misfit dislocations in such structures. This clear experimental evidence for the compliance of Si nano-islands on SOI substrates opens a new integration concept that is not only limited to Ge but also extendable to semiconductors like III–V and II–VI materials.