Title: Intragrain defects in polycrystalline silicon layers grown by aluminum-induced crystallization and epitaxy for thin-film solar cells
Authors: Van Gestel, Dries ×
Gordon, Ivan
Bender, Hugo
Saurel, Damien
Vanacken, Johan
Beaucarne, Guy
Poortmans, Jef #
Issue Date: Jun-2009
Publisher: American Institute of Physics
Series Title: Journal of Applied Physics vol:105 issue:11 pages:1-11
Article number: 114507
Abstract: Polycrystalline silicon (pc-Si) thin-films with a grain size in the range of 0.1-100 mu m grown on top of inexpensive substrates are economical materials for semiconductor devices such as transistors and solar cells and attract much attention nowadays. For pc-Si, grain size enlargement is thought to be an important parameter to improve material quality and therefore device performance. Aluminum-induced crystallization (AIC) of amorphous Si in combination with epitaxial growth allows achieving large-grained pc-Si layers on nonsilicon substrates. In this work, we made pc-Si layers with variable grain sizes by changing the crystallization temperature of the AIC process in order to see if larger grains indeed result in better solar cells. Solar cells based on these layers show a performance independent of the grain size. Defect etching and electron beam induced current (EBIC) measurements showed the presence of a high density of electrically active intragrain defects. We therefore consider them as the reason for the grain size independent device performance. Besides dislocations and stacking faults, also Sigma 3 boundaries were electrically active as shown by combining electron backscattered diffraction with EBIC measurements. The electrical activity of the defects is probably triggered by impurity decoration. Plasma hydrogenation changed the electrical behavior of the defects, as seen by photoluminescence, but the defects were not completely passivated as shown by EBIC measurements. In order to reveal the origin of the defects, cross section transmission electron microscopy measurements were done showing that the intragrain defects are already present in the AIC seed layer and get copied into the epitaxial layer during epitaxial growth. The same types of intragrain defects were found in layers made on different substrates (alumina ceramic, glass ceramic, and oxidized silicon wafer) from which we conclude that intragrain defects are not related to the relatively rough alumina ceramic substrates often used in combination with high temperature epitaxy. Further improvement of the material quality, and hence device performance, is therefore not simply achieved by increasing the grain size, but the intragrain quality of the material also needs to be taken into account. For pc-Si layers based on AIC and epitaxial growth, the seed layer has a crucial impact on the intragrain defect formation. (C) 2009 American Institute of Physics. [DOI: 10.1063/1.3117838]
ISSN: 0021-8979
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Solid State Physics and Magnetism Section
ESAT - ELECTA, Electrical Energy Computer Architectures
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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