The photoluminescence (PL) of Si nanocrystals (Si-nc) embedded in fused silica has been investigated under simultaneous excitations by laser and low energy proton beam. Ionodegradation of the sample, characterized by a rapid decrease and a spectral blueshift of the PL emission has been observed. These effects are associated with the creation of non-radiative centers in the Si-nc. Micro-Raman spectroscopy analysis shows that the proton beam has not changed the average size of Si-nc, but has disturbed a fraction of Si-Si bonds inside the Si-nc, which is consistent with both simulations and direct measurements. A post-annealing performed at 400 C for 1 h can restore the structural properties of the Si-nc, but only a part of their nominal PL emission intensity is recovered. Characterization of the damage induced by low energy proton irradiation reported in this paper makes the use of light ion beams relevant for the experimental investigation of nanostructured systems, such as ionoluminescence measurements. © 2011 American Institute of Physics.
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