Thin luminescent silicon layers are fabricated and placed on various substrates using a purely wet-chemical process at room temperature. To this aim, silicon powder with an average grain size of about 0.1 μm is etched in a HF:HNO3 solution. During the reaction, a coalescence phenomenon is observed resulting in the formation of the photoluminescent film (PLF). This film has been picked up and placed on silicon, gallium arsenide, and glass substrates, respectively. Physical properties of PLF depend on the etching time. Under our processing conditions the film with a thickness between 20 and 14 μm has a porosity ranging between 40% and 50%, respectively, and has very high electrical resistance. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.