Nonradiative Step Facets in Semiconductor Nanowires

One of the main advantages of nanowires for functional applications is their high perfection, which results from surface image forces that act on line defects such as dislocations, rendering them unstable and driving them out of the crystal. Here we show that there is a class of step facets that are stable in nanowires, with no long-range strain field or dislocation character. In zinc-blende semiconductors, they take the form of Σ3 (112) facets with heights constrained to be a multiple of three {111} monolayers. Density functional theory calculations show that they act as nonradiative recombination centers and have deleterious effects on nanowire properties. We present experimental observations of these defects on twin boundaries and twins that terminate inside GaAsP nanowires and find that they are indeed always multiples of three monolayers in height. Strategies to use the three-monolayer rule during growth to prevent their formation are discussed.