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Nano Lett. 2014 Jun 11;14(6):3241-6. doi: 10.1021/nl5006228. Epub 2014 May 21.

Complete replacement of metal in metal oxide nanowires via atomic diffusion: In/ZnO case study.

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  • 1Department of Materials Science and Engineering and ┬žDepartment of Physics, National Tsing Hua University , Hsinchu 30013, Taiwan.


Atomic diffusion is a fundamental process that dictates material science and engineering. Direct visualization of atomic diffusion process in ultrahigh vacuum in situ TEM could comprehend the fundamental information about metal-semiconductor interface dynamics, phase transitions, and different nanostructure growth phenomenon. Here, we demonstrate the in situ TEM observations of the complete replacement of ZnO nanowire by indium with different growth directions. In situ TEM analyses reveal that the diffusion processes strongly depend and are dominated by the interface dynamics between indium and ZnO. The diffusion exhibited a distinct ledge migration by surface diffusion at [001]-ZnO while continuous migration with slight/no ledges by inner diffusion at [100]-ZnO. The process is explained based on thermodynamic evaluation and growth kinetics. The results present the potential possibilities to completely replace metal-oxide semiconductors with metal nanowires without oxidation and form crystalline metal nanowires with precise epitaxial metal-semiconductor atomic interface. Formation of such single crystalline metal nanowire without oxidation by diffusion to the metal oxide is unique and is crucial in nanodevice performances, which is rather challenging from a manufacturing perspective of 1D nanodevices.

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