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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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Growing Nanowires

In vapor-liquid-solid (VLS) growth of nanowires, the liquid phase acts as a transporter to bring material from the gas phase to the growing solid. By heating a single crystal of sapphire in a high-resolution transmission microscope, Oh et al. (p. 489) monitored the growth of sapphire (α-Al2O3) nanowires out of an aluminum droplet. The liquid aluminum brings oxygen to the growing wire surface, in alternating growth and dissolution reactions at the edge of the wire. The oscillation created an optimum face at the self-catalytic site for atomic stacking and regenerated the junction between the VLS phases, allowing growth of the nanowire.

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