Fabrication of Functional Silicon Surfaces using Metallic Nanostructures Produced by Block Copolymer Self-Assembly

Self-assembly is the autonomous organization of components into patterns or structures without human intervention. At the molecular level, self-assembly usually involves non-covalent interactions of various natures, such as van der Waals, electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions, hydrogen and coordination bonds. Thus, this process provides one solution to the fabrication of ordered aggregates from components with typical sizes in the submicron scale, which is a key to applications in nanotechnology. The work presented in this thesis aims at producing hybrid and functional nanostructured silicon surfaces using self-assembled metallic nanostructures. As self-assembling tool, we use polystyrene-block-poly(2-vinylpyridine) (PS-b-P2VP) copolymers, which are amphiphilic molecules able to form well-defined nanostructures and to guide the positioning of metallic components into periodic arrangements. Various approaches were explored to reach this goal. First, self-assembled monolayers of PS-b-P2VP copolymer micelles were used as nanoreactors for the chemical synthesis of metal nanostructures of tunable dimensions and morphologies. This was achieved via a post-loading method, where the micelle cores are impregnated with metal salts after their deposition on silicon surfaces. Gold, silver and iron oxide nanoparticle (NP) arrays of controlled sizes and periodicities were produced. We also exploited the responsive properties of PS-b-P2VP micelles to create ordered arrays of gold nanorings having feature sizes below 100 nm. Surface plasmon resonance properties were studied and showed a significant change of optical properties between the gold particle and nanoring morphologies. Then, we focused our efforts on the controlled positioning of preformed gold NPs using PS-b-P2VP micelles as guiding templates. Two methods were developed. In the first, hierarchical positioning of NPs was achieved in one step during the spontaneous micelle phase inversion into nanoring structures. In the second, we used block copolymer-assisted lithography for producing periodic amino-silane nanopatterns, which then acted as electrostatic traps for the selective immobilization of gold NPs in aqueous solution. For both approaches, we showed the formation of ordered arrangements of individual gold NPs or clusters on silicon surfaces, whose morphologies, densities and periodicities could be tuned by simply varying the initial block copolymer molecular weights or deposition conditions. In a last part, we demonstrated the fabrication of functional silicon surfaces with high aspect ratio and controlled morphologies using self-assembled metallic patterns. Using a simple and efficient process called metal-assisted chemical etching (MAC-Etch), both highly porous silicon surfaces and ultra long silicon nanowires were produced. In particular, we reported for the first time the possible fabrication of free-standing nanoporous silicon membranes by this method and demonstrated the effective transport of molecules across the pores. Finally, the catalytic properties of self-assembled gold NPs were evaluated to grow vertically aligned silicon nanowires in a Low Pressure Chemical Vapor Deposition (LPCVD) reactor via a Vapor-Liquid-Solid (VLS) growth mechanism.


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