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Evaluating Amorphization Around Micro-Cracks in PV Silicon

  • Prashant K. Kulshreshtha (a1), Khaled M. Youssef (a2) and George Rozgonyi (a3)


Since the initiation and propagation of a micro-crack in a silicon wafer introduces local variations in stress, it is critical to the understanding of wafer breakage that accurate profiling of stress be performed in the vicinity of the micro-crack. In this study, nanoindentation has been used to investigate the stress-relaxation during crack initiation and propagation in material of particular interest to the photovoltaic (PV) industry. The low load (<1 mN) capability of a Hysitron Triboindenter® was used to accurately profile the extent of plastic deformation and resulting amorphization. Measurements were made on Si samples extracted from top, middle and bottom of a (100) oriented single crystal ingot to evaluate the impact of different carbon, oxygen and metallic impurity concentrations. A gradual but significant drop in hardness from 10.2 to 6.9 GPa occurred as indents were made closer to the micro-crack and was attributed to local amorphization. Electron back scattered diffraction (EBSD) and Raman spectroscopy confirmed the amorphization, respectively, at nano- and micro-scale.



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