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Transient Clustering of Reaction Intermediates during Wet Etching of Silicon Nanostructures

TitleTransient Clustering of Reaction Intermediates during Wet Etching of Silicon Nanostructures
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsAabdin, Zainul, Xu Xiu Mei, Sen Soumyo, Anand Utkarsh, Kral Petr, Holsteyns Frank, and Mirsaidov Utkur
JournalNano Lett.
Date Published05/2017
Keywordsalkaline-solutions, aqueous koh, behavior, chemical etching, chemistry, dependence, growth, hydroxide, in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM), liquid cell, morphology, Nanofabrication, nanopillars, nanowires, reaction intermediates, silicon, transistors

Wet chemical etching is a key process in fabricating silicon (Si) nanostructures. Currently, wet etching of Si is proposed to occur through the reaction-of surface Si atoms with etchant molecules, forming etch intermediates that dissolve directly into the bulk etchant solution. There, using in, situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM), we follow the nano-kale wet etch dynamics of amorphous Si (a-Si) nanopillars in real-time and show that intermediates generated during alkaline wet etching first aggregate as nanoclusters on the Si surface and then detach from the surface before dissolving in the etchant solution. Molecular dynamics simulations reveal that the molecules of etch intermediates remain weakly bound to the hydroxylated Si surface during the etching and aggregate into nanoclusters via surface diffusion instead-of directly, diffusing into the-etchant solution; We confirmed this model experimentally by suppressing the formation of nanoclusters of etch intermediates on the Si surfaces by shielding the hydroxylated Si sites with large ions. These results suggest that the interaction of etch intermediates with etching surfaces controls the solubility of-reaction intermediates and is an important parameter in fabricating densely packed clean 3D nanostructures for future generation microelectronics.


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