Scientific interest, technological promise, and increased availability of highly enriched isotopes have led to a sharp rise in the number of experimental and theoretical studies with isotopically controlled semiconductor crystals. This review of mostly recent activities begins with an introduction to some past classical experiments which have been performed on isotopically controlled semiconductors.
A review of the natural isotopic composition of the relevant elements follows. Some materials aspects resulting in part from the high costs of enriched isotopes are discussed next. Raman spectroscopy studies with a number of isotopically pure and deliberately mixed Ge bulk crystals show that the Brillouin‐zone‐center optical phonons are not localized. Their lifetime is almost independent of isotopic disorder, leading to homogeneous Raman line broadening. Studies with short period isotope superlattices consisting of alternating layers of n atomic planes of 70Ge and 74Ge reveal a host of zone‐center phonons due to Brillouin‐zone folding. At n≳40 one observes two phonon lines at frequencies corresponding to the bulk values of the two isotopes. In natural diamond, isotope scattering of the low‐energy phonons, which are responsible for the thermal conductivity, is very strongly affected by small isotope disorder. Isotopically pure 12C diamond crystals exhibit thermal conductivities as high as 410 W cm−1 K−1 at 104 K, leading to projected values of over 2000 W cm−1 K−1 near 80 K.
The changes in phonon properties with isotopic composition also weakly affect the electronic band structures and the lattice constants. The latter isotope dependence is most relevant for future standards of length based on crystal lattice constants. Capture of thermal neutrons by isotope nuclei followed by nuclear decay produces new elements, resulting in a very large number of possibilities for isotope selective doping of semiconductors. This neutron transmutation of isotope nuclei, already used for homogeneous doping of floating zone Si with P, holds perhaps the biggest promises for isotopically controlled semiconductors and is discussed in some detail. Local vibrational modes of low‐mass impurities are sensitive to the mass of the impurity as well as the masses of the host atoms neighboring the impurity. High‐resolution infrared‐absorption studies of O in Ge crystals of different isotopic composition demonstrate the extreme simplification in such spectra which is achieved by isotope control. Interdiffusion of GaAs and Ge isotope superlattices with 0.1–1 μm thick layers have been studied with secondary‐ion‐mass spectroscopy. This kind of internal diffusion avoids the problems with surface effects and can produce accurate data without the need for radioactive tracers. The review closes with an outlook on the exciting future possibilities offered through isotope control of a wide range of semiconductor materials. © 1995 American Institute of Physics.