Silicon nanowires, oxidation, diffusion, recession


This dissertation presents heretofore undiscovered properties of Silicon Nanowires (SiNWs) grown by electroless process and presents mathematical solutions to the special problems of the oxidation and diffusion of dopants for SiNWs. Also presented here is a mathematical description of morphology of oxidized SiNWs. This dissertation is comprised of several discussions relating to SiNWs growth, oxidation, morphology and doping. In here is presented work derived from a long-term study of SiNWs. Several important aspects of SiNWs were investigated and the results published in journals and conference papers. The recession of SiNWs was heretofore unreported by other research groups. In our investigations, this began as a question, "How far into the substrate does the etching process go when this method is used to make SiNWs?" Our investigations showed that recession did take place, was controllable and that a number of variables were responsible. The growth mechanism of SiNWs grown by electroless process is discussed at length. The relation of exposed area to volume of solution is shown, derived from experimentation. A relation of Silver used to Si removed is presented, derived from experimentation. The agglomeration of SiNWs grown by the electroless process is presented. The oxidation of SiNWs is a subject of interest to many groups, although most other groups work with SiNWs grown by the VLS process, which is more difficult, time-consuming and expensive to do. The oxidation of planar Silicon (Si) is still a subject of study, even today, after many years of working with and refining our formulae, because of the changing needs of this science and industry. SiNWs oxidation formulae are more complicated than those for planar Si, partly because of their morphology and partly because of their scale. While planar Si only iv presents one orientation for oxidation, SiNWs present a range of orientations, usually everything between and ( the orientation is usually not presented during oxidation). This complicates the post-oxidation morphology to the extent that, subsequent to oxidation, SiNWs are more rectangular than cylindrical in shape. After etching to remove an oxidation layer from the SiNWs, the rectangular shape shifts 90° in orientation. In traditional oxidation, the Deal-Grove formulae are used, but when the oxidation must take place in very small layers, such as with nanoscale devices, the Massoud formulae have to be used. However, even with Massoud, these formulae are not as good because of the morphology. Deal-Grove and Massoud formulae are intended for use with planar Si. We present some formulae that show the change in shape of SiNWs during oxidation, due to their morphology. The diffusion of dopants in SiNWs is a subject few research groups have taken up. Most of the groups who have, use SiNWs grown by the VLS method to make measurements and report findings. In order to measure the diffusion of dopants in SiNWs, a controllable diameter is needed. There are a number of ways to measure diffusion in SiNWs, but none of the ones used so far apply well to SiNWs grown by electroless process. Usually these groups present some mathematical formulae to predict diffusion in SiNWs, but these seem to lack mathematical rigor. Diffusion is a process that is best understood using Fick’s Laws, which are applied to the problem of SiNWs in this dissertation. Diffusion is a science with a long history, going back at least 150 years. There are many formulae that can be used in the most common diffusion processes, but the processes involved with the diffusion of dopants in SiNWs is more complex than the simple diffusion processes that are fairly well-understood. Diffusion doping of SiNWs is a multiphase process that is more complex, first because it is multiphase and second because the second step involves a v multiplicity of diffusing elements, plus oxidation, which brings on the problems of moving boundaries. In this dissertation, we present solutions to these problems, and the two-step diffusion process for SiNWs.


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Graduation Date





Sundaram, Kalpathy B.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Degree Program

Electrical Engineering








Release Date

August 2012

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic