Growing nanowires inside a transmission electron microscope (TEM) and observing the process in situ has contributed immensely to understanding nanowire growth mechanisms. Majority of such studies were on elemental semiconductors – either Si or Ge – both of which are indirect bandgap semiconductors. Several compound semiconductors on the other hand have a direct bandgap making them more efficient in several applications involving light absorption or emission. During compound nanowire growth using a metal catalyst, the difference in miscibility of the nanowire species inside the metal catalyst are different, making its growth dynamics different from elemental nanowires. Thus, studies specifically focusing on compound nanowires are necessary for understanding its growth dynamics. This chapter reviews the recent progresses in the understanding of compound semiconductor nanowire growth obtained using in situ TEM. The concentrations of the nanowire species in the catalyst was studied in situ. This concentration difference has been shown to enable independent control of layer nucleation and layer growth in nanowires. In situ TEM has also enabled better understanding of the formation of metastable crystal structures in nanowires.
Part of the book: Nanowires