Quantification of Nanoscale Density Fluctuations in Hydrogenated Amorphous Silicon

Eike Gericke, Jimmy Melskens, Robert Wendt, Markus Wollgarten, Armin Hoell, Klaus Lips (Corresponding author)

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The nanostructure of hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si∶H) is studied by a combination of small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) and small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) with a spatial resolution of 0.8 nm. The a-Si∶H materials were deposited using a range of widely varied conditions and are representative for this class of materials. We identify two different phases that are embedded in the a-Si∶H matrix and quantified both according to their scattering cross sections. First, 1.2 nm sized voids (multivacancies with more than 10 missing atoms) which form a superlattice with 1.6 nm void-to-void distance are detected. The voids are found in concentrations as high as 6×10^{19}  cm^{-3} in a-Si∶H material that is deposited at a high rate. Second, dense ordered domains (DOD) that are depleted of hydrogen with 1 nm average diameter are found. The DOD tend to form 10-15 nm sized aggregates and are largely found in all a-Si∶H materials considered here. These quantitative findings make it possible to understand the complex correlation between structure and electronic properties of a-Si∶H and directly link them to the light-induced formation of defects. Finally, a structural model is derived, which verifies theoretical predictions about the nanostructure of a-Si∶H.

Original languageEnglish
Article number185501
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2020

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