Self-assembly of Functional Groups inside High Aspect Ratio Silicon Nanopores

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A novel technique has been developed to assemble molecules with functional end groups inside pores of a nanoporous silicon membrane. A 20-um thick p-doped silicon membrane was anodized in HF electrolyte to produce 5-7 nm in diameter pores through the entire membrane thickness, with the exception of 0.5 um layer at the backside of the membrane that was later etched using reactive ion etching process. A recipe was developed to hydroxylate the surface of the pores. It was shown that a simple process of soaking the membrane in solution, as done in prior studies, only results in self-assembly in a very shallow depth inside the pores. Thus, a new method was developed to conduct self-assembly down to the bottom of the pores (the aspect ratio of the pores is approximately four thousand). The molecule assembled on the pores’ wall is (3-mercaptopropyl)trimethoxysilane (MPTS). The thoil end group of this molecule was later oxidized in nitric acid. Penetration depth of the functional group inside the membrane was verified using Time of Flight-Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (TOF-SIMS) and Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES). In TOF-SIMS, a spot on the membrane was carved down gradually and its elemental composition was measured. The sulfur concentration was found to stay constant through the membrane thickness. Analysis of the cross section of the membrane using AES also showed uniform coverage. The developed membrane is the first of its kind, with uniformly covered covalently bonded sulfonate groups, that can be used as proton exchange membrane (PEM). This development has a significant impact on silicon-based micro fuel cell technology where a silicon-based MEMS/CMOS compatible PEM membrane has been sought.

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Journal: TechConnect Briefs
Volume: 1, Nanotechnology 2008: Materials, Fabrication, Particles, and Characterization – Technical Proceedings of the 2008 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show, Volume 1
Published: June 1, 2008
Pages: 563 - 566
Industry sector: Advanced Materials & Manufacturing
Topics: Advanced Manufacturing, Nanoelectronics
ISBN: 978-1-4200-8503-7