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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Zirconium oxide surface passivation of crystalline silicon

  • Author(s): Wan, Y
  • Bullock, J
  • Hettick, M
  • Xu, Z
  • Yan, D
  • Peng, J
  • Javey, A
  • Cuevas, A
  • et al.

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© 2018 Author(s). This letter reports effective passivation of crystalline silicon (c-Si) surfaces by thermal atomic layer deposited zirconium oxide (ZrOx). The optimum layer thickness and activation annealing conditions are determined to be 20 nm and 300 °C for 20 min. Cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy imaging shows an approximately 1.6 nm thick SiOxinterfacial layer underneath an 18 nm ZrOxlayer, consistent with ellipsometry measurements (∼20 nm). Capacitance-voltage measurements show that the annealed ZrOxfilm features a low interface defect density of 1.0 × 1011cm-2eV-1and a low negative film charge density of -6 × 1010cm-2. Effective lifetimes of 673 μs and 1.1 ms are achieved on p-type and n-type 1 Ω cm undiffused c-Si wafers, respectively, corresponding to an implied open circuit voltage above 720 mV in both cases. The results demonstrate that surface passivation quality provided by ALD ZrOxis consistent with the requirements of high efficiency silicon solar cells.

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