Elucidating the Effect of Etching Time Key-Parameter toward Optically and Electrically-Active Silicon Nanowires

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2020 Feb 25;10(3):404. doi: 10.3390/nano10030404.


In this work, vertically aligned silicon nanowires (SiNWs) with relatively high crystallinity have been fabricated through a facile, reliable, and cost-effective metal assisted chemical etching method. After introducing an itemized elucidation of the fabrication process, the effect of varying etching time on morphological, structural, optical, and electrical properties of SiNWs was analysed. The NWs length increased with increasing etching time, whereas the wires filling ratio decreased. The broadband photoluminescence (PL) emission was originated from self-generated silicon nanocrystallites (SiNCs) and their size were derived through an analytical model. FTIR spectroscopy confirms that the PL deterioration for extended time is owing to the restriction of excitation volume and therefore reduction of effective light-emitting crystallites. These SiNWs are very effective in reducing the reflectance to 9-15% in comparison with Si wafer. I-V characteristics revealed that the rectifying behaviour and the diode parameters calculated from conventional thermionic emission and Cheung's model depend on the geometry of SiNWs. We deduce that judicious control of etching time or otherwise SiNWs' length is the key to ensure better optical and electrical properties of SiNWs. Our findings demonstrate that shorter SiNWs are much more optically and electrically active which is auspicious for the use in optoelectronic devices and solar cells applications.

Keywords: electrical properties; etching time; metal assisted chemical etching; optical properties; silicon nanowires.