The impact of the capping material on the structural properties of self-assembled InAs quantum dots (QDs) was studied at the atomic scale by cross-sectional scanning tunneling microscopy. Capping with lattice matched layers and with strained layers was analyzed. When the different capping materials are lattice matched to the substrate, the differences in the QD properties can be dominated by chemical effects: InAs/InP QDs capped with InP have a 2 ML smaller height than those capped with InGaAs or InGaAsP due to As/P exchange induced decomposition. The height of the dots is found to be much more strongly affected when strained capping layers are used. InAs/GaAs, QDs capped with InGaAs are considerably taller than typical GaAs-capped dots. When GaAsSb is used as the capping layer, the dots are almost full pyramids with a height of 9.5 nm, indicating that dot decomposition is almost completely suppressed. This indicates that the dot/capping layer strain plays a major role in inducing dot decomposition during capping.

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