Black silicon with high density and high aspect ratio nanowhiskers
Journal article, 2011
The physical properties of black silicon (b-Si) formed on Si wafers by reactive ion etching in chlorine plasma are reported in an attempt to clarify the formation mechanism and the origin of the observed optical and electrical phenomena, which are promising for a variety of applications. The b-Si consisting of high density and high aspect ratio sub-micron length whiskers or pillars with tip diameters of well under 3 nm exhibits strong photoluminescence (PL) both in the visible and the infrared, which is interpreted in conjunction with defects, confinement effects and near band-edge emission. Structural analysis indicates that the whiskers are all crystalline and encapsulated by a thin Si oxide layer. The infrared vibrational spectrum of Si-O-Si bondings in terms of transverse-optic (TO) and longitudinal-optic (LO) phonons indicates that disorder induced LO-TO optical mode coupling can be an effective tool in assessing the structural quality of the b-Si. The same phonons are likely coupled to electrons in visible region PL transitions. Field emission properties of these nanoscopic features are demonstrated indicating the influence of the tip shape on the emission. Overall properties are discussed in terms of the surface morphology of the nanowhiskers.