A simple and effective method is presented for producing light-emitting porous silicon (PSi). A thin (d<10 nm) layer of Au, Pt, or Au/Pd is deposited on the (100) Si surface prior to immersion in a solution of HF and H2O2. Depending on the type of metal deposited and Si doping type and doping level, PSi with different morphologies and light-emitting properties is produced. PSi production occurs on the time scale of seconds, without electrical current, in the dark, on both p- and n-type Si. Thin metal coatings facilitate the etching in HF and H2O2, and of the metals investigated, Pt yields the fastest etch rates and produces PSi with the most intense luminescence. A reaction scheme involving local coupling of redox reactions with the metal is proposed to explain the metal-assisted etching process. The observation that some metal remains on the PSi surface after etching raises the possibility of fabricating in situ PSi contacts. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.