Nanoherding: Plasma-Chemical Synthesis and Electric-Charge-Driven Self Organization of SiO<sub>2</sub> Nanodots

We report on the chemical synthesis of the arrays of silicon oxide nanodots and their self-organization on the surface via physical processes triggered by surface charges. The method based on chemically active oxygen plasma leads to the rearrangement of nanostructures and eventually to the formation of groups of nanodots. This behavior is explained in terms of the effect of electric field on the kinetics of surface processes. The direct measurements of the electric charges on the surface demonstrate that the charge correlates with the density and arrangement of nanodots within the array. Extensive numerical simulations support the proposed mechanism and prove a critical role of the electric charges in the self-organization. This simple and environment-friendly self-guided process could be used in the chemical synthesis of large arrays of nanodots on semiconducting surfaces for a variety of applications in catalysis, energy conversion and storage, photochemistry, environmental and biosensing, and several others.