A precise optical determination of nanoscale diameters of semiconductor nanowires
in: Nanotechnology (2011)
Electrical and optical properties of semiconducting nanowires (NWs) strongly depend on their diameters. Therefore, a precise knowledge of their diameters is essential for any kind of device integration. Here, we present an optical method based on dark field optical microscopy to easily determine the diameters of individual NWs with an accuracy of a few nanometers and thus a relative error of less than 10%. The underlying physical principle of this method is that strong Mie resonances dominate the optical scattering spectra of most semiconducting NWs and can thus be exploited. The feasibility of this method is demonstrated using GaAs NWs but it should be applicable to most types of semiconducting NWs as well. Dark field optical microscopy shows that even slight tapering of the NWs, i.e. diameter variations of a few nanometers, can be detected by a visible color change. Abrupt diameter changes of a few nanometers, as they occur for example when growth conditions vary, can be determined as well. In addition a profound analysis of the elastic scattering properties of individual GaAs NWs is presented theoretically using Mie calculations as well as experimentally by dark field microscopy. This method has the advantage that no vacuum technique is needed, a fast and reliable analysis is possible based on cheap standard hardware.