We present a synthetic strategy that takes advantage of the inherent asymmetry exhibited by semiconductor nanowires prepared by Au-catalyzed chemical vapor deposition (CVD). The metal–semiconductor junction is used for activating etch, deposition, and modification steps localized to the tip area using a wet-chemistry approach. The hybrid nanostructures obtained for the coinage metals Cu, Ag, and Au resemble the morphology of grass flowers, termed here Nanofloret hybrid nanostructures consisting of a high aspect ratio SiGe nanowire (NW) with a metallic nanoshell cap. The synthetic method is used to prepare hybrid nanostructures in one step by triggering a programmable cascade of events that is autonomously executed, termed self-processing synthesis. The synthesis progression was monitored by ex situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM), in situ scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) analyses to study the mechanistic reaction details of the various processes taking place during the synthesis. Our results indicate that the synthesis involves distinct processing steps including localized oxide etch, metal deposition, and process termination. Control over the deposition and etching processes is demonstrated by several parameters: (i) etchant concentration (water), (ii) SiGe alloy composition, (iii) reducing agent, (iv) metal redox potential, and (v) addition of surfactants for controlling the deposited metal grain size. The NF structures exhibit broad plasmonic absorption that is utilized for demonstrating surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) of thiophenol monolayer. The new type of nanostructures feature a metallic nanoshell directly coupled to the crystalline semiconductor NW showing broad plasmonic absorption.
As part of a larger study, in situ LC-STEM was used to study the growth mechanism of metal-semiconductor hybrid floret nanowires.