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Fabrication of porous silicon by metal-assisted etching using highly ordered gold nanoparticle arrays

Sebastian P Scheeler, Simon Ullrich, Stefan Kudera and Claudia Pacholski*

Author affiliations

Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Department of New Materials and Biosystems, Heisenbergstrasse 3, Stuttgart, 70569, Germany

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Citation and License

Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:450  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-450

Published: 9 August 2012


A simple method for the fabrication of porous silicon (Si) by metal-assisted etching was developed using gold nanoparticles as catalytic sites. The etching masks were prepared by spin-coating of colloidal gold nanoparticles onto Si. An appropriate functionalization of the gold nanoparticle surface prior to the deposition step enabled the formation of quasi-hexagonally ordered arrays by self-assembly which were translated into an array of pores by subsequent etching in HF solution containing H2O2. The quality of the pattern transfer depended on the chosen preparation conditions for the gold nanoparticle etching mask. The influence of the Si surface properties was investigated by using either hydrophilic or hydrophobic Si substrates resulting from piranha solution or HF treatment, respectively. The polymer-coated gold nanoparticles had to be thermally treated in order to provide a direct contact at the metal/Si interface which is required for the following metal-assisted etching. Plasma treatment as well as flame annealing was successfully applied. The best results were obtained for Si substrates which were flame annealed in order to remove the polymer matrix - independent of the substrate surface properties prior to spin-coating (hydrophilic or hydrophobic). The presented method opens up new resources for the fabrication of porous silicon by metal-assisted etching. Here, a vast variety of metal nanoparticles accessible by well-established wet-chemical synthesis can be employed for the fabrication of the etching masks.

Porous silicon; Nanolithography; Gold nanoparticles; Self-assembly; Metal-assisted etching; 81.05.Rm; 81.16.Nd; 81.65.Cf