What is MBE?
MBE stands for Molecular Beam Epitaxy. It is a technique of growing or making crystals by using a beam of atoms or molecules. This beam is then directed towards a base material called a substrate to produce crystals with similar orientation to that of the substrate.
In normal conditions, crystals are made easily by filling up a plastic container with water and putting the same in extreme low temperatures like in a freezer. After taking it out, one may notice that the water is now formed into somewhat icy crystals. But this method is the conventional of producing so-called crystals. Creating them for scientific and industrial use requires a much more complex process wherein atoms and molecules are combined together with precision technology such as Molecular Beam Epitaxy.
The initial process of MBE was invented by two American physicists at the Bell Laboratories in the year 1968. These two physicists were Alfred Cho and John Arthur Jr. Later, various other scientists contributed to the MBE technique which resulted to further refinements in the process. The base substance for the MBE process may be in the form of germanium, gallium arsenide or silicon. These materials are referred to as the substrates. Precision beams are then used to provide heat. The resulting atoms and molecules will go to the surface of the specific substrate. And in there, it will condense and finally form into crystal layers.
MBE technology may be applied in deposition processes involving organic semiconductors. It can also be helpful in making semiconductor lasers for a particular CD player or for high-tech computer chips. Industry segments in computing, photonics, and optics may also take advantage of MBE’s capability of making thin film devices with embedded high precision properties. But aside from its various industrial uses, Molecular Beam Epitaxy is also used in very advanced nano-technology research.