Nanowires have great potential as building blocks for nanoscale electrical and optoelectronic devices. The difficulty in achieving functional and hierarchical nanowire structures poses an obstacle to realization of practical applications. While post-growth techniques such as fluidic alignment might be one solution, self-assembled structures during growth such as branches are promising for functional nanowire junction formation. In this study, we report vapor-liquid-solid (VLS) self-branching of GaN nanowires during AuPd-catalyzed chemical vapor deposition (CVD). This is distinct from branches grown by sequential catalyst seeding or vapor-solid (VS) mode. We present evidence for a VLS growth mechanism of GaN nanowires different from the well-established VLS growth of elemental wires. Here, Ga solubility in AuPd catalyst is limitless as suggested by a hypothetical pseudo-binary phase diagram, and the direct reaction between NH3 vapor and Ga in the liquid catalyst induce the nucleation and growth. The self-branching can be explained in the context of the proposed VLS scheme and migration of Ga-enriched AuPd liquid on Ga-stabilized polar surface of mother nanowires. This work is supported by DOE Grant No. DE-FG02-98ER45701.
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