We report on the fabrication and characterization of silicon nanowire tunnel diodes. The silicon nanowires were grown on p-type Si substrates using Au-catalyzed vapor-liquid-solid growth and in situ n-type doping. Electrical measurements reveal Esaki diode characteristics with peak current densities of 3.6 kA/cm 2, peak-to-valley current ratios of up to 4.3, and reverse current densities of up to 300 kA/cm 2 at 0.5 V reverse bias. Strain-dependent current-voltage (I-V) measurements exhibit a decrease of the peak tunnel current with uniaxial tensile stress and an increase of 48% for 1.3 GPa compressive stress along the 〈111〉 growth direction, revealing the strain dependence of the Si band structure and thus the tunnel barrier. The contributions of phonons to the indirect tunneling process were probed by conductance measurements at 4.2 K. These measurements show phonon peaks at energies corresponding to the transverse acoustical and transverse optical phonons. In addition, the low-temperature conductance measurements were extended to higher biases to identify potential impurity states in the band gap. The results demonstrate that the most likely impurity, namely, Au from the catalyst particle, is not detectable, a finding that is also supported by the excellent device properties of the Esaki diodes reported here. © 2012 American Chemical Society.