In this work we present first results concerning the detailed structure of porous silicon (PS) layers prepared by a new method using a vapour-etching (VE)-based technique. Studies of the photoluminescence properties of VE-based PS show that the visible emission occurs at high energies as compared with PS prepared by conventional techniques. To understand the VE-based PS features, we need to point out the PS microstructure throughout its general morphology. For this purpose a microscopy multiscale study was done. Scanning, conventional transmission, and high-resolution transmission electron microscopes were employed. The investigations were made on PS films prepared from moderately and heavily doped n- and p-type silicon. SEM images show that VE-based PS layers are essentially formed of clusters like interconnected structures. TEM studies show that these clusters are composed of nanocrystallites with different shapes. The effect of the doping type of the starting Si substrate on the characteristics of the PS layers was examined (thickness, porosity, behavior). Pore propagation was found to depend on doping type. The crystallinity of the PS layers was also locally studied in depth.
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