A method and structure for forming semiconductor structures using tensilely strained gettering layers. The method includes forming a donor wafer comprising a tensilely strained gettering layer disposed over a substrate, and at least one material layer disposed over the tensilely strained gettering layer. Additionally, the donor wafer may possess a particle-confining region proximate the tensilely strained layer. The method also includes introducing particles into the donor wafer to a depth below the surface, and accumulating at least some particles within the tensilely strained gettering layer. Next, the method includes initiating a cleaving action so as to separate at least one of the material layers form the substrate. The tensilely strained gettering layer may accumulate particles and/or point defects and reduce the implantation dose and thermal budget required for cleaving.