Unravelling a simple method for the low temperature synthesis of silicon nanocrystals and monolithic nanocrystalline thin films

Ka Hyun Kim, Erik V. Johnson, Andrey G. Kazanskii, Mark V. Khenkin, Pere Roca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this work, we present new results on the plasma processing and structure of hydrogenated polymorphous silicon (pm-Si:H) thin films. pm-Si:H thin films consist of a low volume fraction of silicon nanocrystals embedded in a silicon matrix with medium range order, and they possess this morphology as a significant contribution to their growth comes from the impact on the substrate of silicon clusters and nanocrystals synthesized in the plasma. Quadrupole mass spectrometry, ion flux measurements, and material characterization by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and atomic force microscopy all provide insight on the contribution to the growth by silicon nanocrystals during PECVD deposition. In particular, cross-section TEM measurements show for the first time that the silicon nanocrystals are uniformly distributed across the thickness of the pm-Si:H film. Moreover, parametric studies indicate that the best pm-Si:H material is obtained at the conditions after the transition between a pristine plasma and one containing nanocrystals, namely a total gas pressure around 2 Torr and a silane to hydrogen ratio between 0.05 to 0.1. From a practical point of view these conditions also correspond to the highest deposition rate achievable for a given RF power and silane flow rate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40553
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
DOIs
StatePublished - 16 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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