A method (300) for etching a silicon surface (116) to reduce reflectivity. The method (300) includes electroless deposition of copper nanoparticles about 20 nanometers in size on the silicon surface (116), with a particle-to-particle spacing of 3 to 8 nanometers. The method (300) includes positioning (310) the substrate (112) with a silicon surface (116) into a vessel (122). The vessel (122) is filled (340) with a volume of an etching solution (124) so as to cover the silicon surface (116). The etching solution (124) includes an oxidant-etchant solution (146), e.g., an aqueous solution of hydrofluoric acid and hydrogen peroxide. The silicon surface (116) is etched (350) by agitating the etching solution (124) with, for example, ultrasonic agitation, and the etching may include heating (360) the etching solution (124) and directing light (365) onto the silicon surface (116). During the etching, copper nanoparticles enhance or drive the etching process.
The United States Government has rights in this invention under Contract No. DE-AC36-08GO28308 between the United States Department of Energy and the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, the Manager and Operator of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.