Applied Physics Letters

Bio-inspired silicon nanospikes fabricated by metal-assisted chemical etching for antibacterial surfaces

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The recently discovered bactericidal properties of nanostructures on wings of insects such as cicadas and dragonflies have inspired the development of similar nanostructured surfaces for antibacterial applications. Since most antibacterial applications require nanostructures covering a considerable amount of area, a practical fabrication method needs to be cost-effective and scalable. However, most reported nanofabrication methods require either expensive equipment or a high temperature process, limiting cost efficiency and scalability. Here, we report a simple, fast, low-cost, and scalable antibacterial surface nanofabrication methodology. Our method is based on metal-assisted chemical etching that only requires etching a single crystal silicon substrate in a mixture of silver nitrate and hydrofluoric acid for several minutes. We experimentally studied the effects of etching time on the morphology of the silicon nanospikes and the bactericidal properties of the resulting surface. We discovered that 6 minutes of etching results in a surface containing silicon nanospikes with optimal geometry. The bactericidal properties of the silicon nanospikes were supported by bacterial plating results, fluorescence images, and scanning electron microscopy images.