A two-dimensional model has been developed for silicon nanoparticle synthesis by silane thermal decomposition driven by laser heating in a tubular reactor. This fully coupled model includes fluid dynamics, laser heating, gas phase and surface phase chemical reactions, and aerosol dynamics which includes particle transport and evolution by convection, diffusion, thermophoresis, nucleation, surface growth, and coagulation processes. A moment method, based upon a lognormal particle size distribution, and a sectional method are used to model the aerosol dynamics. The simulation results obtained by the two methods are compared. The sectional method is capable of capturing the bimodal behavior that occurs locally during the process, while the moment method is computationally more efficient. The effect of operating parameters, such as precursor concentration, gas phase composition, inlet gas velocity and laser power input, on the characteristics of the particles produced are investigated. Higher temperature generates more large particles with higher precursor conversion. Shorter residence time, from high inlet velocity, produces more small particles at the cost of lower precursor conversion. Increasing H2 concentration suppresses particle formation by reducing the rates of gas phase and surface reactions, leading to fewer and smaller particles. In addition, the relative importance of the interconnected mechanisms involved in the particle formation is considered. The results make clear that spatial variations in reaction conditions are the primary source of size polydispersity and generation of non lognormal overall size distributions in a laser-driven process like that considered here.