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Pure Appl. Chem., 2005, Vol. 77, No. 2, pp. 379-389

Exploration of the deposition limits of microcrystalline silicon

D. Mataras

Plasma Technology Laboratory, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Patras, P.O. Box 1407, 26504 Patras, Greece

Abstract: The effect of various process parameters on the deposition rate of microcrystalline hydrogenated silicon is presented. The various pathways leading to high deposition rates involve the optimization of a combination of parameters, while maintaining the crystalline character of the film and avoiding the presence of particles. The deposition rate increases in conditions that enhance and at the same time “cool down” the electron population. Such conditions are: moderately higher frequencies, higher pressures, and the presence of larger molecules (like disilane) even in small quantities. There is an optimum pressure, determined by primary dissociation, for a certain silane fraction. In addition, silane fraction and power density must also increase up to the limit of transition to amorphous growth and before attachment becomes too important. In all of these cases, there is a need for optimizing the distance of the deposition substrate to the source of radical generation, especially at higher pressures, to further increase the already important contribution of higher silicon radicals. It is shown that similar deposition rates can be obtained via radical fluxes with very different compositions. In every case, there is a need for sufficient H atom fluxes to ensure crystalline growth.