Fabrication and characterization of well-aligned and ultra-sharp silicon nanotip array
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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:120 doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-120Published: 13 February 2012
Well-defined, uniform, and large-area nanoscaled tips are of great interest for scanning probe microscopy and high-efficiency field emission. An ultra-sharp nanotip causes higher electrical field and, hence, improves the emission current. In this paper, a large-area and well-aligned ultra-sharp nanotip arrays by reactive ion etching and oxidation techniques are fabricated. The apex of nanotips can be further sharpened to reach 3-nm radius by subsequent oxidation and etching process. A schematic model to explain the formation of nanotip array is proposed. When increasing the etching time, the photoresist on top of the nanotip is also consumed, and the exposed silicon substrate is etched away to form the nanotip. At the end, the photoresist is consumed completely and a nanotip with pyramid-like shape is developed. The field emission property was measured, and the turn-on field and work function of the ultra-sharp nanotip was about 5.37 V/μm and 4.59 eV, respectively. A nanotip with an oxide layer capped on the sidewall is also fabricated in this paper. Comparing to the uncapped nanotip, the oxide-capped sample exhibits stable and excellent field emission property against environmental disturbance.