Metal-Assisted Chemical Etching of Silicon: A Review

In memory of Prof. Ulrich Gösele



This article presents an overview of the essential aspects in the fabrication of silicon and some silicon/germanium nanostructures by metal-assisted chemical etching. First, the basic process and mechanism of metal-assisted chemical etching is introduced. Then, the various influences of the noble metal, the etchant, temperature, illumination, and intrinsic properties of the silicon substrate (e.g., orientation, doping type, doping level) are presented. The anisotropic and the isotropic etching behaviors of silicon under various conditions are presented. Template-based metal-assisted chemical etching methods are introduced, including templates based on nanosphere lithography, anodic aluminum oxide masks, interference lithography, and block-copolymer masks. The metal-assisted chemical etching of other semiconductors is also introduced. A brief introduction to the application of Si nanostructures obtained by metal-assisted chemical etching is given, demonstrating the promising potential applications of metal-assisted chemical etching. Finally, some open questions in the understanding of metal-assisted chemical etching are compiled.