Reaction kinetics during the thermal activation of the silicon surface passivation with atomic layer deposited Al2O3
The excellent surface passivation of crystalline silicon provided by Al 2O3 requires always an activation by a thermal post-deposition treatment. In this work, we present an indirect study of the reaction kinetics during such thermal activation treatments for Al 2O3 synthesized by atomic layer deposition. The study was performed for Al 2O3 deposited at varying temperatures, which results in different micro-structures of the films and, in particular, different hydrogen concentrations. The effective carrier lifetime was measured sequentially as a function of the annealing time and temperature. From these data, the reaction rate R act and the activation energy E A were extracted. The results revealed a rather constant E A in the range of 1.4 to 1.5 eV, independent of the deposition temperature. The reaction rate, however, was found to increase with decreasing deposition temperature, which correlates with an increasing amount of hydrogen being incorporated in the Al 2O3 films. This is a strong indication for an interface hydrogenation that takes place during the thermal activation, which is limited by the amount of hydrogen provided by the Al 2O3 layer.