Optical and Electrical Characteristics of Silicon Nanowires Prepared by Electroless Etching
Vertically aligned silicon nanowire (Si NW) arrays have been fabricated over large areas using an electroless etching (EE) method, which involves etching of silicon wafers in a silver nitrate and hydrofluoric acid based solution. A detailed parametric study determining the relationship between nanowire morphology and time, temperature, solution concentration and starting wafer characteristics (doping type, resistivity, crystallographic orientation) is presented. The as-fabricated Si NW arrays were analyzed by field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM) and a linear dependency of nanowire length to both temperature and time was obtained and the change in the growth rate of Si NWs at increased etching durations was shown. Furthermore, the effects of EE parameters on the optical reflectivity of the Si NWs were investigated in this study. Reflectivity measurements show that the 42.8% reflectivity of the starting silicon wafer drops to 1.3%, recorded for 10 µm long Si NW arrays. The remarkable decrease in optical reflectivity indicates that Si NWs have a great potential to be utilized in radial or coaxial p-n heterojunction solar cells that could provide orthogonal photon absorption and enhanced carrier collection.