Growth and ionization patterns of small silicon clusters are studied using ultrafast pulses centered at 624 nm by varying the metal electron source for cluster formation using group 10 transition metals. The silicon-cluster size was observed to change as the electron source was varied from Pd<Pt<Ni. The smaller silicon-cluster growth in the palladium system is attributed to the higher work function of palladium metal, producing less collisions of the laser-induced plasma with the silane. This shows that changing the metal electron source while holding the laser intensity constant affects the degree of dehydrogenation of SiH4 due to the number of collisions in the cluster source. The saturation intensities of each atomic charge state of silicon, resulting from Coulomb explosion of pure silicon clusters, formed with each metal are measured and compared to those calculated by using semi-classical tunneling theory assuming sequential ionization. The ion signal of silicon atomic charge states produced when using palladium as electron source for cluster formation shows a greater degree of ionization enhancement than that observed for the nickel and platinum systems. This is reflected by the smaller-size clusters formed in the palladium system. Based on a plot of the ion signal as a function of laser intensity compared to the simulated ion signal from tunneling theory, the ionization enhancement of silicon high-charge states is found to increase by varying the electron source from Ni<Pt<Pd.
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