An improved method for producing optically smooth surfaces in silicon wafers during wet chemical etching involves a pre-treatment rinse of the wafers before etching and a post-etching rinse. The pre-treatment with an organic solvent provides a well-wetted surface that ensures uniform mass transfer during etching, which results in optically smooth surfaces. The post-etching treatment with an acetic acid solution stops the etching instantly, preventing any uneven etching that leads to surface roughness. This method can be used to etch silicon surfaces to a depth of 200 .mu.m or more, while the finished surfaces have a surface roughness of only 15-50 .ANG. (RMS).
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.