|AVS 56th International Symposium & Exhibition|
|Plasma Science and Technology||Monday Sessions|
|Session:||Plasma Processing for Photovoltaics|
|Presenter:||A.H.M. Smets, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan and Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands|
|Authors:||A.H.M. Smets, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan and Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands
M.C.M. van de Sanden, Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands
T. Matsui, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan
M. Kondo, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan
|Correspondent:||Click to Email|
Hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) and hydrogenated microcrystalline silicon (μc-Si:H) are thin film silicon phases which are generally deposited at low processing temperatures by means of plasma enhanced chemical vapour deposition (PECVD) using hydrogen diluted silane gas mixtures. The lattice of dense a-Si:H is best described by a vacancy rich network (1-2 %) which lacks any medium and long range order, whereas the lattice of μc-Si:H consists of crystalline silicon grains (few nm’s up to microns) imbedded in to an amorphous network or tissue. One hot application of these films is the integration in to thin silicon film photovoltaic devices. In comparison to a-Si:H phase, the μc-Si:H phase has the advantage of an enhanced spectral response in the red part of the solar spectrum and a better opto-electronic stability under illumination.
Since the deposition of the μc-Si:H phase under low processing temperatures (~160-250 oC ) is obtained by increasing the hydrogen dilution in a silane plasma, it is believed that additional flux of atomic hydrogen at the surface enhances crystalline relaxation of the silicon atoms in the lattice during growth.
With respect to photovoltaic applications of μc-Si:H, high quality material is classified as dense material without any significant post-deposition oxidation, as oxidation is linked to a reduction in the red response of the p-i-n solar device. This specific μc-Si:H phase has the following properties: 1) crystalline grains with a preferentially  oriented growth, 2) has no crystalline grain boundaries, as these internal surfaces have been identified as the location at which the unwelcome post-deposition oxidation occurs and 3) is deposited close to conditions in which the growth transfers from amorphous to microcrystalline.
In this contribution we will address in detail the material properties of μc-Si:H and its relation to its performance in solar cells, the growth mechanism of the μc-Si:H phase under plasma deposition conditions and the crucial role of the control of plasma processing in obtaining device grade material. Finally, we will discuss the upscaling of the deposition technology (high deposition rates over large areas), which is an important issue in substantially reducing the cost-price of thin silicon photovoltaic products. We will present the recently explored deposition regime at higher processing pressures (~5-25 Torr), which has a high potential to bring about this important breakthrough in the thin silicon film photovoltaic technology.