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Silicon surface passivation by thin thermal oxide/PECVD layer stack systems

: Mack, S.; Wolf, A.; Brosinsky, C.; Schmeisser, S.; Kimmerle, A.; Saint-Cast, P.; Hofmann, M.; Biro, D.


IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics 1 (2011), Nr.2, S.135-145
ISSN: 2156-3381
ISSN: 2156-3403
Fraunhofer ISE ()

For the passivation of p-type silicon surfaces, we investigate layer systems consisting of a thin layer of thermally grown SiO2 and different dielectric capping layers deposited by means of plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD). We find that the thermal SiO2 layer thickness strongly impacts the passivation quality and interface parameters of the stacks. Capacitance-voltage measurements reveal that for Al2O3 and SiNx capping layers, an increased thermal SiO2 film thickness suppresses charge formation at the interface between SiO2 and the capping layer. Interface trap density and effective carrier lifetime data suggest that a certain thermal SiO2 thickness is required to achieve appropriate chemical passivation. The combination of a thin thermal SiO2 layer (~4 nm) and a PECVD-SiOx capping results in very low surface recombination velocities of a few centimeters per second, measured on p-type 1-omega·cm float-zone silicon after contact firing and postmetallization annealing. The experimentally observed dependence of the surface recombination velocity on the fixed charge density, gate voltage, and injection density is reproduced very accurately by analytical calculations that use the measured interface trap density and total charge density at the Si/insulator interface. The model also includes additional recombination in the space charge region of inverted surfaces.