semiconductor heterostructure (rus. гетероструктура, полупроводниковая) — artificial structure made of two or more different semiconductor substances (materials), in which an important role belongs to the transition layer, i.e. the boundary between the two substances (materials).


Semiconductor heterostructures consist of elements belonging to groups II-VI (Zn, Cd, Hg, Al, Ga, In, Si, Ge, P, As, Sb, S, Se, Te), AIIIBV compounds and their solid solutions and AIIBVI compounds. Of the AIIIBV compounds the most widely used are GaAs and GaN, of their solid solutions - AlxGa1-xAs. The use of solid solutions allows the creation of heterostructures with continuous, rather than step-by-step, change in composition and, therefore, continuous variation of the band gap.

In manufacturing heterostructures it is important to ensure agreement (proximity) between lattice parameters of the two contacting compounds (substances). If two layers of compounds with very different lattice constants are grown on one another, then an increase in their thickness will be accompanied by the occurrence of large deformations and epitaxial dislocations at the interface. That is why solid solutions of the AlAs-GaAs system are often used in the production of heterostructures, as aluminium and gallium arsenides have almost identical lattice parameters. In this case, single crystals of GaAs form an ideal substrate for the growth of heterostructures. Another natural substrate is InP, which is used in combination with such solid solutions as GaAs-InAs, AlAs-AlSb, etc.

A breakthrough in the creation of thin layer heterostructures came with the technologies of thin layer growth using molecular beam epitaxy, chemical vapour deposition from organometallic compounds and liquid phase epitaxy. They made it possible to grow heterostructures with very sharp interfaces, situated so close together that in the gap between them a decisive role belongs to dimensional quantum effects. Areas of this type are called quantum wells or, less often, quantum walls. In quantum wells the middle narrow-band layer has a thickness of several tens of nanometres, which leads to the splitting of electronic levels due to the size quantisation effect. Heterostructures, especially double heterostructures, allow one to control such fundamental parameters of semiconductors, as the band gap, effective mass and mobility of charge carriers, and electron energy spectrum.


  • Gusev Alexander I.


  1. Z. I. Alferov. The double heterostructure concept and its applications in physics, electronics, and technology// URL:;2-X/pdf (reference date 12.12.2011).
  2. Gusev A. I. Nanomaterials, Nanostructures, and Nanotechnologies (in Russian) // Fizmatlit, Moscow (2007) - 416 pp.

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