N. Geyer, N. Wollschläger, B. Fuhrmann
May 26, 2015
A systematic method to control the porosity of silicon nanowires is presented. This method is based on metal-assisted chemical etching (MACE) and takes advantage of an HF/H2O2 etching solution and a silver catalyst in the form of a thin patterned film deposited on a doped silicon wafer. It is found that the porosity of the etched nanowires can be controlled by the doping level of the wafer. For low doping concentrations, the wires are primarily crystalline and surrounded by only a very thin layer of porous silicon (pSi) layer, while for highly doped silicon, they are porous in their entire volume. We performed a series of controlled experiments to conclude that there exists a well-defined critical doping concentration separating the crystalline and porous regimes. Furthermore, transmission electron microscopy investigations showed that the pSi has also a crystalline morphology on a length scale smaller than the pore size, determined from positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy to be mesoscopic. Based on the experimental evidence, we devise a theoretical model of the pSi formation during MACE and apply it for better control of the nanowire morphology.