Structural Investigation of Electrochemically Etched Silicon


Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) measurements of four electrochemically etched, porous silicon (PS) samples have been performed over a wide wavevector transfer (Q) range. The intermediate to high Q results can be modeled with a non-particulate, random phase model. Correlation length scales on the order of 1 to 2 nm thought to characterize the PS skeleton have been deduced from the SANS data. The microstructural anisotropy was studied tilting two of the samples with respect to the neutron beam. These samples exhibited an asymmetric scattering pattern at intermediate Q (0.1 ≤ Q ≤ 0.6 nm−1) in this condition. Photoluminescence spectra from all four samples have been recorded as well. A correlation appears to exist between the SANS and photoluminescence measurements. An x-ray diffraction measurement of one sample demonstrates that the PS layer retains the silicon lattice structure. Significant peak broadening is observed that we interpreted as a quasi-particle size effect The PS particle size calculated from the x-ray diffraction measurement is equal to the correlation length obtained in the SANS measurement.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1)

    L.T. Canham, Appl. Phys. Lett. 57, 1046 (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2)

    C. Tsai, K.-H. Li, J. Sarathy, S. Shih, J.C. Campbell, B.K. Hance, and J.M. Whit, Appl. Phys. Lett. 59, 2814 (1991).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3)

    L.E. Friedersdorf, P.C. Searson, S.M. Prokes, O.J. Glembocki, and J.M. Macauley, Appl. Phys. Lett. 60, 2285 (1992).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4)

    P. Debye and A.M. Bueche, J. Appl. Phys. 20, 518 (1949).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5)

    In the limit of high Q, the Debye-Bueche law evolves to a 1/Q4 behavior typical of sharp, smoodi interfaces. Surfaces exhibiting fractal dimensionality, on the other hand, obey a 1/Q3 to 1/Q4 law. For a derivation of the fractal small-angle scattering law, see P.W. Schmidt, J. Appl. Cryst. 24, 414 (1991).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6)

    V. Vezin, P. Goudeau, A. Naudon, A. Halimaoui, and G. Bomchil, Appl. Phys. Lett. 60, 2625 (1992).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7)

    L.H. Schwartz and J.B. Cohen, Diffraction From Materials (Academic Press, New York 1977), p. 379.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


We are grateful to Drs. V. Petrova-Koch (Technische Universitat Munchen, Germany) and A. Yelon (Ecole Polytechnique, Montreal, Canada) for supplying some of the porous Si samples used in this work We also thank Dr. G. Wignall (ORNL) for his help with the SANS measurements performed at Oak Ridge.

This material is based upon activities supported by the National Science Foundation under Agreement No. DMR-91224444.

Author information



Additional information

Managed by Martin Marietta Energy Systems, Incorporated under Contract DE-AC05-840R21400 for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Heuser, B.J., Spooner, S., Glinka, C.J. et al. Structural Investigation of Electrochemically Etched Silicon. MRS Online Proceedings Library 283, 209–214 (1992).

Download citation