Photoluminescence from silicon nanostructures: The mutual role of quantum confinement and surface chemistry

Amir Saar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


Recent developments in the field of silicon nanostructures, particularly those properties and phenomena that are related to the photoluminescence (PL) from silicon nanostructures, have attracted much attention lately. A major source of controversy and disagreement among researchers is the underlying mechanism behind the PL. Two classes of models, i.e., the quantum confinement model that assigns the PL to quantum size effects in the nanocrystalline silicon core of the nanostructures and the surface chemistry model that assign the PL to surface phenomena at the interface between the crystalline core and the host matrix that wrap the nanostructures, are the most notable ones. In recent years, alternative structures to porous silicon, which allow synthesizing high quality silicon nanostructures with better control of their dimensionality, shape and size distribution, have emerged. In particular, fabrication techniques of silicon nanocrystals embedded in silicon-dioxide (SiO2) matrices have reached a level where consistent investigation of surface and quantum size phenomena can be performed. Recent experimental results and theories suggest that none of the above models alone can explain the entire spectrum of optical phenomena in silicon nanostructures. Instead, a refined model that takes into account the mutual role of quantum confinement and surface chemistry in shaping the optical properties of these nanostructures should be considered.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number032501
JournalJournal of Nanophotonics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I thank many of my(former and current) graduate students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for invaluable contributions to the this work, particularly M. Dovrat, D. Krapf, Y. Shalibo, N. Arad, Y. Oppenheim-Goshen and Y. Raichman. I wish to acknowledge the fruitful collaboration with my colleagues at the Hebrew University including J. Jedrzejewski, J. Shappir and especially Prof. Isaac Balberg for stimulating and helpful discussions and for critical reading of the manuscript. I thank the technical staff of the unit for nano-characterization (UNC) at the Hebrew University, particularly Dr. Inna Popov for her assistance with TEM measurements. I have enjoyed from a fruitful and productive collaboration with X.-H. Zhang from the Chinese academy of science in Beijing, and Prof. S.-T. Lee from the city University of Honk Kong during the joint project on silicon nanowires. This work has been supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF), the Israeli Ministry of Science and the bi-national Chinese-Israeli research grant provides by the ministries of science of both countries.


  • Silicon nanostructures
  • photoluminescence
  • quantum size effects
  • surface phenomena


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