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Disorder in the potential-energy landscape presents a major obstacle to the more rapid development of semiconductor quantum device technologies. We report a large-magnitude source of disorder, beyond commonly considered unintentional background doping or fixed charge in oxide layers: nanoscale strain fields induced by residual stresses in nanopatterned metal gates. Quantitative analysis of synchrotron coherent hard x-ray nanobeam diffraction patterns reveals gate-induced curvature and strains up to 0.03% in a buried Si quantum well within a Si/SiGe heterostructure. Electrode stress presents both challenges to the design of devices and opportunities associated with the lateral manipulation of electronic energy levels.


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