Aerotaxy: large-scale, gas-phase nanowire synthesis

Aerotaxy is a new method for growing semiconductor nanowires without involving a substrate (compare with Technology development), which we are trying to develop into a scalable process for mass production of designed nanowire materials. In short, Aerotaxy works by creating an aerosol of catalytic seed particles and adding precursor molecules in a tube furnace, which causes nanowires to grow at a very high speed of more then 1 µm/s, which is 100 – 1000 times faster than the substrate-based methods [1]. The nanowires can be collected in filters, directly on substrates or dispersed in liquids. The nanowires are being studied using scanning and transmission electron microscopy, photoluminescence, scanning tunnelling microscopy, and with electrical transport.

The origin of the technology is due to a unique combination of aerosol and nanowire science [2], and builds on early work on aerosol synthesis of semiconductor nanoparticles [4]. The fundamental motivation for the research is to reach a better understanding of the intrinsic mechanisms of nanowire growth, without a substrate being involved. The practical motivation is that nanowires show great potential for applications in solar cells, light emitting diodes, batteries or nanoelectronics. The technology is being developed in collaboration with the spin-out company Sol Voltaics AB, aiming to create highly efficient solar cells using Aerotaxy-grown nanowires aligned processed into dense arrays [3].

Image: The principle of Aerotaxy. Schematic illustration of the Aerotaxy process. Au is evaporated, forming nanometer-sized particles (a), which are size-selected (b), and sintered to spherical shape (c). The aerosol of Au particles is mixed with precursor molecules containing Ga and As, and led through a furnace (d), where the wire growth occurs, and the resulting nanowires are collected on a substrate (e).

Key publications

1. M. Heurlin, M. H. Magnusson, D. Lindgren, M. Ek, L. R. Wallenberg, K. Deppert, and L. Samuelson, ”Continuous gas-phase synthesis of nanowires with tunable properties”, Nature, 2012, 492: 90

2. M. H. Magnusson, B. J. Ohlsson, M. T. Björk, K. A. Dick, M. T. Borgström, K. Deppert, and L. Samuelson, “Semiconductor nanostructures enabled by aerosol technology”, Frontiers of Physics, 2013, Submitted

3. J. Wallentin, N. Anttu, D. Asoli, M. Huffman, I. Åberg, M. H. Magnusson, G. Siefer, P. Fuss-Kailuweit, F. Dimroth, B. Witzigmann, H. Q. Xu, L. Samuelson, K. Deppert, and M. T. Borgström, “InP Nanowire Array Solar Cells Achieving 13.8% Efficiency by Exceeding the Ray Optics Limit”, Science, 2013, 339: 1057

4. K. Deppert and L. Samuelson, “Self‐limiting transformation of monodisperse Ga droplets into GaAs nanocrystals”, Applied Physics Letters, 1996, 68: 1409

Key personnel

Lars Samuelson
Knut Deppert
Martin Magnusson
Mats-Erik Pistol
Jonas Johansson
Kimberly Dick Thelander
Claes Thelander
Heiner Linke
Reine Wallenberg
Edvin Lundgren
Anders Mikkelsen
Villy Sundström
Arkady Yartsev
Postdocs and PhD students
Fangfang Yang
Kilian Mergenthaler
Magnus Heurlin
Masoomeh Ghasemi
Olof Hultin
Daniel Jacobsson
Martin Ek
Filip Lenrick
Sofie Yngman


Site responsible: Martin Magnusson