A Deep Etching Mechanism for Trench-Bridging Silicon Nanowires
Introducing a single silicon nanowire with a known orientation and dimensions to a specific layout location constitutes a major challenge. The challenge becomes even more formidable, if one chooses to realize the task in a monolithic fashion with an extreme topography, a characteristic of microsystems. The need for such a monolithic integration is fueled by the recent surge in the use of silicon nanowires as functional building blocks in various electromechanical and optoelectronic applications. This challenge is addressed in this work by introducing a top-down, silicon-on-insulator technology. The technology provides a pathway for obtaining well-controlled silicon nanowires along with microstructures up to a three-order-of-magnitude scale difference. A two-step etching process is developed, where the first shallow etch defines a nanoscale protrusion on the wafer surface. After applying a conformal protection on the protrusion, a deep etch step is carried out forming the surrounding microscale features. A minimum nanowire cross-section of 35 nm by 168 nm is demonstrated in the presence of an etch depth of 10 μm. All cross-sectional features are characterized via transmission electron microscopy and linked to specific process steps. The technology allows control on all dimensional aspects along with the exact location and orientation of the silicon nanowire.