This paper details the fabrication of ultrathin silicon nanowires (SiNWs) on a silicon-on-insulator (SOI) substrate as an electrode for the electro-oxidation and sensing of ethanol. The nanowire surfaces were prepared by a block copolymer (BCP) nanolithographic technique using low molecular weight symmetric poly(styrene)-block-poly(methyl methacrylate) (PS-b-PMMA) to create a nanopattern which was transferred to the substrate using plasma etching. The BCP orientation was controlled using a hydroxyl-terminated random polymer brush of poly(styrene)-random-poly(methyl methacrylate) (HO-PS-r-PMMA). TEM cross-sections of the resultant SiNWs indicate an anisotropic etch process with nanowires of sub-10 nm feature size. The SiNWs obtained by etching show high crystallinity and there is no evidence of defect inclusion or amorphous region production as a result of the pattern transfer process. The high density of SiNWs at the substrate surface allowed the fabrication of a sensor for cyclic voltammetric detection of ethanol. The sensor shows better sensitivity to ethanol and a faster response time compared to widely used polymer nanocomposite based sensors.
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