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Substrate-thickness Dependence of Hydrogenated Microcrystalline Silicon Nucleation Rate on Amorphous Silicon Layer

Authors

  • Zewen Zuo,

    1. College of Physics and Electronics Information, Center for Nano Science and Technology, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu, (China)
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  • Guanglei Cui,

    1. College of Physics and Electronics Information, Center for Nano Science and Technology, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu, (China)
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  • Yu Wang,

    1. School of Electronic Science and Engineering, and Key Laboratory of Photonic and Electronic Materials, Nanjing University, Nanjing, (China)
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  • Junzhuan Wang,

    1. School of Electronic Science and Engineering, and Key Laboratory of Photonic and Electronic Materials, Nanjing University, Nanjing, (China)
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  • Lin Pu,

    1. School of Electronic Science and Engineering, and Key Laboratory of Photonic and Electronic Materials, Nanjing University, Nanjing, (China)
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  • Yi Shi

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Electronic Science and Engineering, and Key Laboratory of Photonic and Electronic Materials, Nanjing University, Nanjing, (China)
    • School of Electronic Science and Engineering, and Key Laboratory of Photonic and Electronic Materials, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093 China

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  • This work is partly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 61106011 and the Anhui Provincial Natural Science Foundation under Grant No. 1308085QF109.

Abstract

The nucleation rate of hydrogenated microcrystalline silicon (µc-Si:H) films deposited by plasma-enhanced (PE)CVD on hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) substrates is investigated through structural and electrical characterization, with special attention paid to the initial growth stage of µc-Si:H films. It is found that the nucleation rate of µc-Si is dependent on the thickness of the a-Si:H substrate. The µc-Si:H film exhibits a rapid nucleation on a thin a-Si:H layer, leaving a thin incubation layer at the µc-Si/substrate interface. This substrate-thickness dependence of the nucleation rate is proposed to be correlated with the stress inside the a-Si:H layer. The high interfacial stress existing in the thin a-Si:H layer facilitates the formation of high concentration, strained Si-Si bonds, which are responsible for the rapid µc-Si nucleation. The thick a-Si:H layer relaxes the interfacial stress through the formation of islands in the Stranski-Krastanow (S-K) growth mode, while the intrinsic stress is still low, resulting in a long nucleation process allowing for the intrinsic compressive stress to be accumulated that is necessary for the µc-Si deposited on it.

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