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Effects of Deposition Parameters on the Structure and Photovoltaic Performance of Si Thin Films by Metal Induced Growth

  • Peter T. Mersich (a1), Shubhranshu Verma (a1), Wayne A. Anderson (a1) and Rossman F. Giese (a2)


A metal-induced growth (MIG) process was employed to deposit thin films of microcrystalline silicon (μc-Si) for solar cell applications. Due to different grain orientations of the crystals, the absorption coefficient of μc-Si is about 10 times higher than the absorption coefficient of single crystalline Si. The properties of the Si film were investigated resulting from variations in several parameters. A range of Ni and Co thicknesses were examined from 7.5 nm to 60 nm including combinations of the two, while the dc sputtering power was stepped up from 150 W to 225 W. The structure of the resulting film was studied using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) and x-ray diffraction (XRD). SEM of the film revealed that 5 hr of Si deposition at 150 W yields a film thickness of 6.5 μm and a maximum grain size of about 0.6 μm. EDS data showed that at the middle of the Si film the atomic percentage of the Si was 99.17%. XRD data showed that the dominant crystal orientation is {220}. To characterize the photovoltaic properties of the μc-Si, Schottky photodiodes were fabricated. Ni alone as the seed layer resulted in ohmic behavior. With Co only, MIG formed a rectifying contact with open-circuit voltage (V∝). The combination of Co layered over Ni formed better thin films and gave a Voc of 0.24 V and short-circuit current density (Jsc) of 5.0 mA/cm2 since the Co prevents Ni contamination of the top of the grown Si layer.



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