Effective passivation of silicon surfaces by ultrathin atomic-layer deposited niobium oxide

B. Macco, M. Bivour, J.H. Deijkers, S.B. Basuvalingam, L.E. Black, J. Melskens, B.W.H. van de Loo, W.J.H. Berghuis, M. Hermle, W.M.M. Kessels

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Abstract

This letter reports on effective surface passivation of n-type crystalline silicon by ultrathin niobium oxide (Nb2O5) films prepared by atomic layer deposition (ALD) and subjected to a forming gas anneal at 300 °C. A champion recombination parameter J0 of 20 fA/cm2 and a surface recombination velocity Seff of 4.8 cm/s have been achieved for ultrathin films of 1 nm. The surface pretreatment was found to have a strong impact on the passivation. Good passivation can be achieved on both HF-treated c-Si surfaces and c-Si surfaces with a wet-chemically grown interfacial silicon oxide layer. On HF-treated surfaces, a minimum film thickness of 3 nm is required to achieve a high level of surface passivation, whereas the use of a wet chemically-grown interfacial oxide enables excellent passivation even for Nb2O5 films of only 1 nm. This discrepancy in passivation between both surface types is attributed to differences in the formation and stoichiometry of interfacial silicon oxide, resulting in different levels of chemical passivation. On both surface types, the high level of passivation of ALD Nb2O5 is aided by field-effect passivation originating from a high fixed negative charge density of 1-2 × 1012 cm-3. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the passivation level provided by 1 nm of Nb2O5 can be further enhanced through light-soaking. Finally, initial explorations show that a low contact resistivity can be obtained using Nb2O5-based contacts. Together, these properties make ALD Nb2O5 a highly interesting building block for high-efficiency c-Si solar cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article number242105
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Volume112
Issue number24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2018

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niobium oxides
passivity
silicon
atomic layer epitaxy
silicon oxides
soaking
pretreatment
oxide films
stoichiometry
electric contacts
film thickness
solar cells

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title = "Effective passivation of silicon surfaces by ultrathin atomic-layer deposited niobium oxide",
abstract = "This letter reports on effective surface passivation of n-type crystalline silicon by ultrathin niobium oxide (Nb2O5) films prepared by atomic layer deposition (ALD) and subjected to a forming gas anneal at 300 °C. A champion recombination parameter J0 of 20 fA/cm2 and a surface recombination velocity Seff of 4.8 cm/s have been achieved for ultrathin films of 1 nm. The surface pretreatment was found to have a strong impact on the passivation. Good passivation can be achieved on both HF-treated c-Si surfaces and c-Si surfaces with a wet-chemically grown interfacial silicon oxide layer. On HF-treated surfaces, a minimum film thickness of 3 nm is required to achieve a high level of surface passivation, whereas the use of a wet chemically-grown interfacial oxide enables excellent passivation even for Nb2O5 films of only 1 nm. This discrepancy in passivation between both surface types is attributed to differences in the formation and stoichiometry of interfacial silicon oxide, resulting in different levels of chemical passivation. On both surface types, the high level of passivation of ALD Nb2O5 is aided by field-effect passivation originating from a high fixed negative charge density of 1-2 × 1012 cm-3. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the passivation level provided by 1 nm of Nb2O5 can be further enhanced through light-soaking. Finally, initial explorations show that a low contact resistivity can be obtained using Nb2O5-based contacts. Together, these properties make ALD Nb2O5 a highly interesting building block for high-efficiency c-Si solar cells.",
author = "B. Macco and M. Bivour and J.H. Deijkers and S.B. Basuvalingam and L.E. Black and J. Melskens and {van de Loo}, B.W.H. and W.J.H. Berghuis and M. Hermle and W.M.M. Kessels",
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Effective passivation of silicon surfaces by ultrathin atomic-layer deposited niobium oxide. / Macco, B.; Bivour, M.; Deijkers, J.H.; Basuvalingam, S.B.; Black, L.E.; Melskens, J.; van de Loo, B.W.H.; Berghuis, W.J.H.; Hermle, M.; Kessels, W.M.M.

In: Applied Physics Letters, Vol. 112, No. 24, 242105, 11.06.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Effective passivation of silicon surfaces by ultrathin atomic-layer deposited niobium oxide

AU - Macco, B.

AU - Bivour, M.

AU - Deijkers, J.H.

AU - Basuvalingam, S.B.

AU - Black, L.E.

AU - Melskens, J.

AU - van de Loo, B.W.H.

AU - Berghuis, W.J.H.

AU - Hermle, M.

AU - Kessels, W.M.M.

PY - 2018/6/11

Y1 - 2018/6/11

N2 - This letter reports on effective surface passivation of n-type crystalline silicon by ultrathin niobium oxide (Nb2O5) films prepared by atomic layer deposition (ALD) and subjected to a forming gas anneal at 300 °C. A champion recombination parameter J0 of 20 fA/cm2 and a surface recombination velocity Seff of 4.8 cm/s have been achieved for ultrathin films of 1 nm. The surface pretreatment was found to have a strong impact on the passivation. Good passivation can be achieved on both HF-treated c-Si surfaces and c-Si surfaces with a wet-chemically grown interfacial silicon oxide layer. On HF-treated surfaces, a minimum film thickness of 3 nm is required to achieve a high level of surface passivation, whereas the use of a wet chemically-grown interfacial oxide enables excellent passivation even for Nb2O5 films of only 1 nm. This discrepancy in passivation between both surface types is attributed to differences in the formation and stoichiometry of interfacial silicon oxide, resulting in different levels of chemical passivation. On both surface types, the high level of passivation of ALD Nb2O5 is aided by field-effect passivation originating from a high fixed negative charge density of 1-2 × 1012 cm-3. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the passivation level provided by 1 nm of Nb2O5 can be further enhanced through light-soaking. Finally, initial explorations show that a low contact resistivity can be obtained using Nb2O5-based contacts. Together, these properties make ALD Nb2O5 a highly interesting building block for high-efficiency c-Si solar cells.

AB - This letter reports on effective surface passivation of n-type crystalline silicon by ultrathin niobium oxide (Nb2O5) films prepared by atomic layer deposition (ALD) and subjected to a forming gas anneal at 300 °C. A champion recombination parameter J0 of 20 fA/cm2 and a surface recombination velocity Seff of 4.8 cm/s have been achieved for ultrathin films of 1 nm. The surface pretreatment was found to have a strong impact on the passivation. Good passivation can be achieved on both HF-treated c-Si surfaces and c-Si surfaces with a wet-chemically grown interfacial silicon oxide layer. On HF-treated surfaces, a minimum film thickness of 3 nm is required to achieve a high level of surface passivation, whereas the use of a wet chemically-grown interfacial oxide enables excellent passivation even for Nb2O5 films of only 1 nm. This discrepancy in passivation between both surface types is attributed to differences in the formation and stoichiometry of interfacial silicon oxide, resulting in different levels of chemical passivation. On both surface types, the high level of passivation of ALD Nb2O5 is aided by field-effect passivation originating from a high fixed negative charge density of 1-2 × 1012 cm-3. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the passivation level provided by 1 nm of Nb2O5 can be further enhanced through light-soaking. Finally, initial explorations show that a low contact resistivity can be obtained using Nb2O5-based contacts. Together, these properties make ALD Nb2O5 a highly interesting building block for high-efficiency c-Si solar cells.

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U2 - 10.1063/1.5029346

DO - 10.1063/1.5029346

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