Semiconductor nanowires of silicon have been synthesized within the pores of mesoporous silica using a novel supercritical fluid solution-phase approach. Mesoporous silica, formed by the hydrolysis of tetramethoxysilane (TMOS) in the presence of a triblock copolymer surfactant, was employed for the nucleation and growth of quantum-confined nanowires. The filling of the silica mesopores with crystalline silicon and the anchoring of these nanowires to the sides of the pores were confirmed by several techniques including electron microscopy, powder X-ray diffraction, 29Si magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance, infrared spectroscopy, and X-ray fluorescence. Effectively, the silica matrix provides a means of producing a high density of stable, well-ordered arrays of semiconductor nanowires in a low dielectric medium. The ordered arrays of silicon nanowires also exhibited discrete electronic and photoluminescence transitions that could be exploited in a number of applications, including nanodevices and interconnects.
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