Metal assisted chemical etching (MacEtch) is a recently developed anisotropic wet etching method that is capable of producing high aspect ratio semiconductor nanostructures from patterned metal film. In this review article, we highlight the characteristics of MacEtch of silicon (Si) including controllability of the produced sidewall roughness, the inherent high aspect ratio, the weak crystal orientation dependence, impurity doping and solution concentration dependent porosity, as well as the applicability of MacEtch to non-Si based semiconductor materials including III–V compound semiconductors. Also reviewed are applications of MacEtch produced high aspect ratio Si nanostructures in photovoltaics, where the p–n junction can be in the planar Si tray, core–shell, or axial geometry, with nanowire, micropillar, or hol arrays serving as light trapping or carrier collection structures. The prospect of using MacEtch to improve the cost and efficiency of photovoltaic cells is discussed.

This paper was originally published in Current Opinion in Solid State and Materials Science (2012) 16, 71-81.

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