Oscillatory Mass Transport in Vapor-Liquid-Solid Growth of Sapphire Nanowires

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Science  22 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6003, pp. 489-493
DOI: 10.1126/science.1190596

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In vapor-liquid-solid (VLS) growth, the liquid phase plays a pivotal role in mediating mass transport from the vapor source to the growth front of a nanowire. Such transport often takes place through the liquid phase. However, we observed by in situ transmission electron microscopy a different behavior for self-catalytic VLS growth of sapphire nanowires. The growth occurs in a layer-by-layer fashion and is accomplished by interfacial diffusion of oxygen through the ordered liquid aluminum atoms. Oscillatory growth and dissolution reactions at the top rim of the nanowires occur and supply the oxygen required to grow a new (0006) sapphire layer. A periodic modulation of the VLS triple-junction configuration accompanies these oscillatory reactions.

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