Nanometer-resolved mechanical properties around GaN crystal surface steps

J Buchwald and M Sarmanova and B Rauschenbach and SG Mayr, BEILSTEIN JOURNAL OF NANOTECHNOLOGY, 5, 2164-2170 (2014).

DOI: 10.3762/bjnano.5.225

The mechanical properties of surfaces and nanostructures deviate from their bulk counterparts due to surface stress and reduced dimensionality. Experimental indentation-based techniques present the challenge of measuring these effects, while avoiding artifacts caused by the measurement technique itself. We performed a molecular dynamics study to investigate the mechanical properties of a GaN step of only a few lattice constants step height and scrutinized its applicability to indentation experiments using a finite element approach (FEM). We show that the breakdown of half-space symmetry leads to an "artificial" reduction of the elastic properties of comparable lateral dimensions which overlays the effect of surface stress. Contact resonance atomic force microscopy (CR-AFM) was used to compare the simulation results with experiments.

Return to Publications page