The effect of passivation films on a Si quantum dot superlattice (QDSL) was investigated to generate high photocurrent in solar-cell applications. Three types of passivation films, sputter-grown amorphous silicon carbide (a-SiC), hydrogenated a-SiC (a-SiC:H), and atomic-layer-deposited aluminum oxide (ALD-Al2O3), were used to passivate the Si QDSLs containing a stack of four 4 nm Si nanodisks (NDs) and 2 nm silicon carbide (SiC) films fabricated by neutral beam etching (NBE). Because of the high surface-to-volume ratio typically present in quantum Si-NDs formed in the top-down NBE process, there is a tendency to form larger surface dangling bonds on untreated Si-ND surfaces as well as to have short distance (<10 nm) between high-aspect-ratio nanopillars of stacked 4 nm Si-NDs/2 nm SiC films, which conventionally sputter SiC films cannot uniformly cover. Therefore, we optimized the passivation techniques with an ALD-Al2O3 film. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis helped to explain the surface morphology before and after the passivation of the QDSLs. After the completion of the passivation process, the quality of the top surface films of the QDSLs was analyzed from the surface roughness by atomic force microscopy (AFM) analysis, which revealed that ALDAl2O3 passivated films had the smallest roughness (RMS) of 1.09nm with respect to sputter-grown a-SiC (RMS: 1.75 nm) and a-SiC:H (RMS: 1.54 nm) films. Conductive atomic force microscopy (CAFM) revealed that ALD-Al2O3 passivation decreased the surface-leakage current as a result of proper passivation of side-wall surface defects in the QDSLs. The carrier transport characteristics were extracted from the QDSLs using the photovoltaic (PV) properties of p++/i/n+ solar cells, where the QDSLs consisted of different passivation layers acting as intermediate layers (i-layers) between the high-doping-density p++ Si (1×1020cm%3) and n+ Si (1×1019cm%3) substrates. High-doping-density p++ Si acted as a hole conductor instead of a photocarrier generator, hence, we could observe the PV properties of the i-layers. The highest short-circuit current density of 4.75mAcm%2 was generated from the QDSL with the ALD-Al2O3-passivated surface, which is suitable for high-efficiency QD solar cells compared with a-SiC-passivated (0.04mAcm%2) and a-SiC:H-passivated (0.37mA cm%2) QDSL surfaces.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)