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Real-time observations were made of the shape change from pyramids to domes during the growth of germanium-silicon islands on silicon (001). Small islands are pyramidal in shape, whereas larger islands are dome-shaped. During growth, the transition from pyramids to domes occurs through a series of asymmetric transition states with increasing numbers of highly inclined facets. Postgrowth annealing of pyramids results in a similar shape change process. The transition shapes are temperature dependent and transform reversibly to the final dome shape during cooling. These results are consistent with an anomalous coarsening model for island growth.
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