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Electronic properties of thin epitaxial silicon films deposited at temperatures below 650°C by means of ion-assisted deposition strongly depend on substrate orientation as well as on deposition temperature: In (100)-oriented epitaxial films we find a low density of structural defects, and the minority carrier diffusion length is only limited by the presence of point defects or point defect complexes. These investigations also show an improvement of the electronic quality with increasing deposition temperature. Epitaxy on non-(100)-oriented substrates results in a significantly higher density of structural defects. The electronic properties of films deposited on stable flat surfaces, such as (111)- and (113)-oriented substrates are inferior as compared to (100)-oriented films, but are still superior to those of films deposited on faceted surfaces, as shown by light beam induced current and electron back-scattering diffraction measurements of polycrystalline thin films.
Ion-assisted deposition (IAD) enables low temperature (≥ 435°C), high-rate (≤ 0.5 μm/min) epitaxial growth of silicon films. Therefore, IAD is an interesting deposition technique for microelectronic devices and thin film solar cells. The Hall-mobility of monocrystalline epitaxial layers increases with deposition temperature Tdep and reaches values comparable to those of bulk Si at Tdep ≥ 540°C. Polycrystalline epitaxial layers exhibit inhomogeneous electrical properties, as shown by Light Beam Induced Current measurements. Recombination within the grains dominates over recombination at grain boundaries. Secco etching identifies an inhomogeneous density of extended structural defects in the polycrystalline epitaxial layers and in the substrate. A major part of the extended defects in the epitaxial layers originates from defects in the substrate.
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