We have studied the nucleation and growth processes of silicon nanowires (SiNWs) by means of transmission electron microscopy and scanning tunneling microscopy. SiNWs are grown on hydrogen-terminated Si surface via the VLS (Vapor-Liquid-Solid) mechanism using silane (SiH4) as source gas. We have classified the growth process of SiNWs into three stages: the formation of nanocatalysts on a substrate, the nucleation of SiNWs in nanocatalysts, followed by the growth of SiNWs. We have shown that the structures of SiNWs are varied in several ways in each stage, and accordingly the structural properties of grown SiNWs can be modified to great extents. At the present moment, the phenomena at the each stage are not fully controlled, and this prevents us utilizing silicon nanowires more effectively.
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