We report experimental results that help settle apparent inconsistencies in earlier work on photoconductivity and light-induced defects in hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) and point toward a new understanding of this subject. After observing that light-induced photoconductivity degradation anneals out at much lower T than the light-induced increase in deep defect density, Han and Fritzsche suggested that two kinds of defects are created during illumination of a-Si:H. In this view, one kind of defect degrades the photoconductivity and the other increases defect sub-bandgap optical absorption. However, the light-induced degradation model of Stutzmann et al. assumes that photoconductivity is inversely proportional to the dangling-bond defect density. We observe two kinds of defects that are distinguished by their annealing activation energies, but because their densities remain in strict linear proportion during their creation, the two kinds of defects cannot be completely independent.
In our measurements of photoconductivity and defect absorption (constant photocurrent method) during 25°C light soaking and during a series of isochronal anneals between 25 < T < 190°C, we find that the absorption measured with E ≤1.1 eV, first increases during annealing, then exhibits the usual absorption decrease found for deeper defects. The maximum in this absorption at E ≤1.1eV occurs simultaneously with a transition from fast to slow recovery of photoconductivity. The absorption for E ≤1.1eV shows two distinct annealing activation energies: the signal rises with about 0.87 eV and falls with about 1.15 eV. The 0.87 eV activation energy roughly equals the activation energy for the dominant, fast, recovery of photoconductivity. The 1.15 eV activation energy roughly equals the single activation energy for annealing of the light-induced dangling bond absorption.