NANO EXPRESSOpen Access
Exciton quantum confinement in nanocones
formed on a surface of CdZnTe solid solution by
Artur Medvid'1*, Natalia Litovchenko2ˆ, Aleksandr Mychko1and Yuriy Naseka2
The investigation of surface morphology using atomic force microscope has shown self-organizing of the
nanocones on the surface of CdZnTe crystal after irradiation by strongly absorbed Nd:YAG laser irradiation at an
intensity of 12.0 MW/cm2. The formation of nanocones is explained by the presence of a thermogradient effect in
the semiconductor. The appearance of a new exciton band has been observed after irradiation by the laser which
is explained by the exciton quantum confinement effect in nanocones.
Keywords: Nanocones, Exciton quantum confinement effect, Thermogradient effect, CdZnTe, Nd:YAG laser
Nowadays, nanostructures are one of the most investi-
gated objects in semiconductor physics, especially the
quantum confinement effect (QCE) in such quantum
systems as quantum dots or 0D [1-5], quantum wires or
1D [6-8] and quantum wells or 2D [9-14]. In the case of
nanostructures, the energy band diagram of the semi-
conductor is strongly changed. This leads to a crucial
change of semiconductor properties, such as electrical
properties (the change of free charge carriers concentra-
tion and their mobility), optical properties (absorption
coefficient, reflectivity coefficient, and radiative recom-
bination efficiency), and mechanical and thermal proper-
ties . Another possibility to change a property of a
semiconductor is by using solid solution, such as
Cd1−xZnxTe  and Si1−xGex, which change the
component content. It was shown  that the shapes
and sizes of the mentioned quantum systems have more
influence on the properties of a semiconductor than its
component content. For example, the ‘blue shift’ of
Si0.7Ge0.3 photoluminescence (PL) spectrum of nano-
cones is up to 1.2 eV, but the possible maximal shift of
PL spectra due to change of x is only up to 0.33 eV.
Moreover, the band of PL spectrum is broader and more
intense due to QCE and graded band gap. Moreover,
nanocones enhance radiation hardness of CdZnTe de-
tector, as shown in .
In this paper, we report about the appearance of a new
band in PL spectra of Cd1−xZnxTe solid solution irra-
diated by Nd:YAG laser, which is explained by exciton
QCE in nanocones formed on the irradiated surface of
The laser processing was performed on the samples of
Cd1−xZnxTe solid solution with x=0.1 in ambient at-
mosphere at room temperature, pressure 1 atm, and
80% humidity. The surface of Cd1−xZnxTe sample was
irradiated by pulses of Nd:YAG laser with the wave-
length of λ=532 nm, pulse duration of τ=15 ns and
power p=1 MW. The spot of laser beam with 3 mm
diameter was moved by 20 μm steps over the surface of
the sample. Atomic force microscope (AFM) was used
for the study of the irradiated surface morphology. The
low-temperature PL at 5 K was carried out to investigate
the optical properties of the nanostructures formed by
laser radiation (LR) on the samples. He-Ne laser with
λ=632.8 nm was used as an excitation source.
Results and discussion
The formation of nanocones on a surface of Cd1−xZnxTe
solid solution with x=0.1 after irradiation by the
* Correspondence: email@example.com
1Riga Technical University, Azenes Street 14, Riga 1048, Latvia
Full list of author information is available at the end of the article
© 2012 Medvid' et al.; licensee Springer. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
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in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Medvid' et al. Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:514
strongly absorbed Nd:YAG laser radiation with intensity
of I=12.0 MW/cm2was observed using AFM, as shown
in Figure 1.
While studying the optical properties of nanocones, a
new exciton band at energy up to 1.87 eV in PL
spectrum for the first time was found, as shown in
Figure 2. The PL spectrum is rather complex, consisting
of an intense line (A0, X) at 1.6362 eV, which is ascribed
to bound excitons to shallow acceptors (Cd vacancies,
VCd) and its longitudinal optical (LO)-phonon replica at
1.6181 eV, an intense line (D0, X) at 1.6475 eV ascribed
to bound excitons to shallow donors (Cd interstitial
atoms, ICd). At the same time, the shift of A0X and D0X
exciton lines of 3.2 and 2.7 meV, correspondingly, to-
ward the higher energy of quantum, that is, the so-called
‘blue shift’ was observed, as shown in Figure 2. The ap-
pearance of a new PL band is explained by exciton
quantum confinement (EQC) effect in nanocones, and
the blue shift of A0X and D0X exciton bands - due to
photo-induced mechanical compressive stress of the top
This process takes place in the following way: the ir-
radiation of the Cd1−xZnxTe solid solution by the laser
leads to the drift of Cd atoms toward the irradiated sur-
face and of Zn atoms - in the opposite direction due to
high gradient of temperature. This is so-called thermo-
gradient effect (TGE) . As a result, the formation of
CdTe/Cd1−x1Znx1Te heterostructure, where x1>x, takes
place due to the replacement of Zn atoms by Cd atoms
at the irradiated surface. At the same time, the opposite
process takes place under the top layer. In the buried
layer of the semiconductor, Zn atoms replace Cd atoms.
At least three factors determine A0X and D0X exciton
lines position in PL spectrum. They are as follows: the
concentration of Zn atoms in the CdTe top layer and in
CdZnTe buried layer, 2D EQC effect in the CdTe layer
when its thickness is comparable with Bohr radius of the
exciton, and the mechanical compressive stress of the
CdTe top layer due to mismatch of CdTe and CdZnTe
crystalline lattice constant.
The decrease of Zn atoms concentration in the top
layer with increased intensity of LR, according to the
proposed model, leads to the ‘red shift’ of the exciton
bands in PL spectra, as was shown in , but increase
of the Zn atoms concentration in the buried CdZnTe
layer manifests itself in the blue shift of PL spectrum, as
shown in Figure 3. These effects do not compensate
each other because they take place in different layers.
This unusual situation can be explained by different in-
put of these layers in the position and intensity of PL
spectrum. If the top layer is excited by short wavelength
light, then mostly the red shift of PL spectrum will be
observed; but if mainly the buried layer is excited, for
example, due to small thickness or transparency of top
layer, then the blue shift will be observed. Of course, it is
possible to observe both PL spectra simultaneously at
intermediate situation. Such situation is exactly observed
in the PL spectrum in Figure 2, after the destruction of
the CdTe top layer and formation of nanocones on the
irradiated surface of the sample. The relaxation of the
mechanical compressive stress in CdTe layer corre-
sponds to the decreasing part of the curves in Figure 3.
It is manifested as the self-assembly of nanocones on the
irradiated surface of the structure as explained by
Stransky-Krastanov' growth mode. A simultaneous ap-
pearance of a new exciton band at 1.872 eV in PL
spectrum at high intensity of LR takes place. The recon-
struction of this band according to Gaussian fitting
shows that it consists of three lines which look like A0X,
D0X, and A0X-LO lines (the distance between the lines
and their full width at half maximum are the same) in
the nonirradiated PL spectrum of the semiconductor.
Figure 1 Atomic force microscope 3D image of the Cd1−xZnxTe
(x=0.1) surfaces after irradiation by the laser at intensity of
12 MW/cm2. The blue and red curly arrows show the different
surfaces with different luminescence properties.
1.620 1.6471.674 1.8 1.9
h , eV
PL intensity, arb. unit.
Figure 2 Photoluminescence spectra of the Cd1−xZnxTe (x=0.1)
measured at temperature of 5 K before (curve 1) and after
(curve 2) the irradiation by the laser at I=10.0 MW/cm2.
Medvid' et al. Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:514
Page 2 of 4
Therefore, we connect the appearance of the new lines
in PL spectrum with the nanocones' formation on the
irradiated surface of the semiconductor and with EQC
in the nanocones. We denote them as A0XQC and
D0XQC lines. An evidence of the mechanical stress re-
laxation process in CdTe layer is a non-monotonic de-
pendence of the blue shift as a function of LR intensity,
as shown in Figure 3. Such non-monotonic dependence
have been observed in p- and n-type Si after studying of
mechanical micro hardness of Si after irradiation by Nd:
YAG laser . The calculation of the mechanical com-
pressive stress in CdTe top layer using the maximum of
the blue shift of A0X exciton line from Figure 3 and
dEg/dP=10 eV/GPa , where Eg and P are band gap
of CdTe crystal and mechanical stress, correspondingly,
gives P=4.62×105Pa. This value corresponds to the ul-
timate strength limit of CdTe . The calculation of
the quantum dot diameter using formula from  and
the blue shift of A0XQC in the PL spectrum of 0.27 eV
gives about 10.0 nm diameter of the quantum dots.
These data correspond to the size of nanocones 
(height and diameter of the bottom of the cones are
10.0 nm) measured using 3D image of AFM as can be
seen in Figure 1. An evidence of the presence of EQC in
nanocones is the decrease of LO phonon energy by
0.7 meV in the PL spectrum. This is the so-called ‘pho-
non quantum confinement effect’ . Moreover, the
increase of Huang-Rhys factor for A0X-LO line up to
three times is a good evidence of EQC effect in the
nanocones. Our calculation of Zn atoms distribution de-
pending on the intensity of LR using the thermo-
diffusion equation has shown that the process of CdTe/
Cd1−x1Znx1Te heterostructure formation is characterized
by the gradual increase of Zn atoms concentration in
the buried layer with intensity of LR up to 8% (x1=0.18).
The thickness of the CdTe layer after irradiation by the
laser with intensity of I=12.0 MW/cm2becomes 10 nm.
The process of nanocones formation is characterized by
the LR threshold intensity of approximately I=10.0 MW/
cm2, as can be seen in Figure 3: nanocones formation
starts at the maximums of the blue shift position. There-
fore, the process of the nanocones formation is character-
ized by two stages: the first stage is the formation of
CdTe/CdZnTe heterostructure, and the second stage is
the nanocones’ self-assembly due to laser annealing of the
mechanical compressive stress in CdTe layer. An evi-
dence of the presence of the first stage of nanocones for-
mation process is the redistribution of the intensity of
LO-ZnTe, TO-CdTe, and LO-CdTe phonon bands in
Raman back scattering spectra, as shown in Figure 4.
It means that before the irradiation of the sample by
the laser, the intensity of LO-ZnTe phonon band was
three to four times higher than the intensity of TO and
LO-CdTe phonon bands, but after irradiation the oppos-
ite situation in Raman spectra is observed.
The studies of the effect of highly absorbed laser radi-
ation on the optical properties of the Cd1−xZnxTe
(x=0.1) compound have revealed the formation of nano-
cones on the surface of the semiconductor under
is 3.2 meV
is 2.7 meV
Figure 3 Blue shift of A0X and D0X exciton lines in PL spectra
as function of the laser intensity.
100 150200250 300
⎯⎯ I=8.6 MW/cm
Raman shift, cm
Figure 4 Raman back scattering spectra of nonirradiated and
irradiated CdZnTe sample. Intensities of LR are as follows: I=0,
black curve; I=2.8 MW/cm2, blue curve; I=8.6 MW/cm2, green curve;
and I=11.0 MW/cm2, red curve.
Medvid' et al. Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:514
Page 3 of 4
irradiation by the Nd:YAG laser within the intensity
range of 9.0-12.0 MW/cm2and the simultaneous ap-
pearance of a new PL band at 1.87 eV, which is explained
by the exciton quantum
The TGE has the main role in redistribution of Zn
atoms at the surface of Cd1−xZnxTe irradiated by the sec-
ond harmonic of Nd:YAG laser. The graded band gap
structure with open optical window is formed on the top
of nanocones after the irradiation by Nd:YAG laser at the
intensity 4.0-12.0 MW/cm2. Formation of a graded band
gap with a close of optical window in Cd1−xZnxTe crystal
is possible under irradiation by the second harmonic of
Nd:YAG laser at the intensity 0.2-2.0 MW/cm2. A two-
stage model of the nanocones formation on the surface
of the Cd1−xZnxTe (x=0.1) under the irradiation by Nd:
YAG laser at the intensity 4.0-12.0 MW/cm2was
AFM: Atomic force microscope; 0D: Quantum dots; 1D: Quantum wires;
2D: Quantum wells; EQC: Exciton quantum confinement; ICd: Cd interstitial
atoms; LR: Laser radiation; PL: Photoluminescence; QCE: Quantum
confinement effect; TGE: Thermogradient effect; VCd: Cd vacancies.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
AM and LN conceived the studies and coordinated the experiment. All of
the authors participated to the analysis of the data and wrote the article.
AMy and YN carried out the sample preparation, the measurements for solid
solutions of CdZnTe. All the authors read and approved the manuscript.
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support in part by the
European Regional Development Fund within the projects ‘Sol–gel and laser
technologies for the development of nanostructures and barrier structures’
and 2010/0221/2DP/18.104.22.168/10/APIA/VIAA/145, RTU PVS ID 1535.
1Riga Technical University, Azenes Street 14, Riga 1048, Latvia.2Institute of
Semiconductor Physics, NAS of Ukraine, Pr. Nauki 28, Kyiv 03028, Ukraine.
Received: 15 August 2012 Accepted: 6 September 2012
Published: 20 September 2012
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Cite this article as: Medvid' et al.: Exciton quantum confinement in
nanocones formed on a surface of CdZnTe solid solution by laser
radiation. Nanoscale Research Letters 2012 7:514.
Medvid' et al. Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:514
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