Steps towards silicon optoelectronics
This thesis addresses the issue of a potential future microelectronics technology, namely the possibility of utilising the optical properties of nanocrystalline silicon for optoelectronic circuits. The subject is subdivided into three chapters. Chapter 1 is an introduction. It formulates the oncoming problem for microelectronic development, explains the basics of Integrated Optoelectronics, introduces porous silicon as a new light-emitting material and gives a brief review of other competing light-emitting material systems currently under investigation. Examples of existing porous silicon devices are given. Chapter 2 reviews the basic physics relevant to the subject of this thesis and informs on the present situation in this field of research, including both experimental and theoretical knowledge gained up-to-date. The chapter provides the necessary background for correct interpretation of the results reported in Chapter 3 and for a realistic decision on the direction for future work. Chapter 3 describes my own experimental and computational results within the framework of the subject, obtained at De Montfort University. These include: onestep preparation of laterally structured porous silicon with photoluminescence and microscopy characterisation, Raman spectroscopy of porous silicon, a polarisation study of the photoluminescence from porous silicon, computer simulations of the conductivity of two-component media and of laser focused atomic deposition for nanostructure fabrication. Thus, this thesis makes a dual contribution to the chosen field: it summarises the present knowledge on the possibility of utilising optical properties of nanocrystalline silicon in silicon-based electronics, and it reports new results within the framework of the subject. The main conclusion is that due to its promising optoelectronic properties nanocrystalline silicon remains a prospective competitor for the cheapest and fastest microelectronics of the next century.