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Microscopic characterization of mixed phase silicon thin films by conductive atomic force microscopy (C-AFM) was used to study the structure composed of conical microcrystalline grains dispersed in amorphous matrix. C-AFM experiments were interpreted using simulations of electric field and current distributions. Density of absorbed optical power was calculated by numerically solving the Maxwell equations. The goal of this study is to combine both models in order to simulate local photoconductivity for understanding the charge photogeneration and collection in nanostructured solar cells.
Series of Raman spectra were measured for microcrystalline silicon thin film with variable crystallinity. Five sets of Raman spectra (corresponding to excitations at 325 nm, 442 nm, 514.5 nm, 632.8 nm and 785 nm wavelengths) were subjected to factor analysis which showed that each set of spectra consisted of just two independent spectral components. Decomposition of the measured Raman spectra into the amorphous and the microcrystalline components is illustrated for 514.5 nm and 632.8 nm excitations. Effect of the light scattering on absolute intensity of Raman spectra was identified even for excitation wavelength highly absorbed in the mixed phase silicon layers.
Charge transport in hydrogenated microcrystalline silicon (µc-Si:H) is determined by structure on several size scales: i) local atomic arrangement (<1 nm), ii) crystalline grains and their boundaries (1-10 nm), iii) grain aggregates or columns (0.1-1 µm) and finally iv) features comparable to layer thickness (0.1-10 µm). We first summarize our experimental results concerning these effects: differences of conductivities of grains and amorphous tissue measured locally by conductive AFM, transport anisotropy observed by comparing dark conductivity and ambipolar diffusion length parallel and perpendicular to the substrate, and finally thickness dependence of transport parameters (e.g. dark conductivity activation energy and prefactor). Most of these phenomena can be described by using a novel model of the µc-Si:H growth leading to a structure known as Voronoi adjacency network. The model is based on the nearest neighbor constrained growth. To our knowledge, the Voronoi structure is the first structural model able to predict structure and transport properties of the µc-Si:H and it may become a basis for the future predictive model of µc-Si:H based solar cells.
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