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Tensile-strained and -doped Ge has emerged as a potential candidate for the realization of optoelectronic devices that are compatible with the mainstream silicon technology. Tensile-strained Ge/Si epilayers can be obtained by using the difference of thermal expansion coefficients between Ge and Si. We have combined various surface, structural, and compositional characterizations to investigate the growth mode and the strain state in Ge/Si epilayers grown by molecular-beam epitaxy. The Ge growth was carried out using a two-step approach: a low-temperature growth to produce relaxed and smooth buffer layers, which is followed by a high-temperature growth to get high quality Ge layers. The existence of a substrate temperature window from 260 to 300 °C is evidenced, which allows to completely suppress the Ge/Si Stranski-Krastanov growth. As a consequence of the high temperature growth, a tensile strain lying in the range of 0.22%–0.24% is obtained. Concerning the effect of thermal annealing, it is shown that cyclic annealing may allow increasing the tensile strain up to 0.30%. Finally, we propose an approach to use carbon adsorption to suppress Si/Ge interdiffusion, which represents one of the main obstacles to overcome in order to realize pure Ge-based optoelectronic devices.


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