Metastability of a-SiO

L. Serenelli, L. Martini, L. Imbimbo, R. Asquini, F. Menchini, M. Izzi, M. Tucci

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The adoption of a-SiOx:H films obtained by PECVD in heterojunction solar cells is a key to further increase their efficiency, because of its transparency in the UV with respect to the commonly used a-Si:H. At the same time this layer must guarantee high surface passivation of the c-Si to be suitable in high efficiency solar cell manufacturing. On the other hand the application of amorphous materials like a-Si:H and SiNxon the cell frontside expose them to the mostly energetic part of the sun spectrum, leading to a metastability of their passivation properties. Moreover as for amorphous silicon, thermal annealing procedures are considered as valuable steps to enhance and stabilize thin film properties, when performed at opportune temperature. In this work we explored the reliability of a-SiOx:H thin film layers surface passivation on c-Si substrates under UV exposition, in combination with thermal annealing steps. Both p- and n-type doped c-Si substrates were considered. To understand the effect of UV light soaking we monitored the minority carriers lifetime and Si[sbnd]H and Si[sbnd]O bonding, by FTIR spectra, after different exposure times to light coming from a deuterium lamp, filtered to UV-A region, and focused on the sample to obtain a power density of 50 μW/cm2. We found a certain lifetime decrease after UV light soaking in both p- and n-type c-Si passivated wafers according to a a-SiOx:H/c-Si/a-SiOx:H structure. The role of a thermal annealing, which usually enhances the as-deposited SiOxpassivation properties, was furthermore considered. In particular we monitored the UV light soaking effect on c-Si wafers after a-SiOx:H coating by PECVD and after a thermal annealing treatment at 300 °C for 30 min, having selected these conditions on the basis of the study of the effect due to different temperatures and durations. We correlated the lifetime evolution and the metastability effect of thermal annealing to the a-SiOx:H/c-Si interface considering the evolution of hydrogen in the film revealed by FTIR spectra, and we developed a model for the effect of both treatments on the Si[sbnd]H bonding and the metastability shown in the lifetime of a-SiOx:H/c-Si/a-SiOx:H structure. We found that, after UV exposure, thermal annealing steps can be used as a tool for the c-Si passivation recovery and enhancement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)430 - 440
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Surface Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

Cite this

Serenelli, L., Martini, L., Imbimbo, L., Asquini, R., Menchini, F., Izzi, M., & Tucci, M. (2017). Metastability of a-SiO. Applied Surface Science, 392, 430 - 440.