Interest in mixed-phase silicon thin film materials, composed of an amorphous semiconductor matrix in which nanocrystalline inclusions are embedded, stems in part from potential technological applications, including photovoltaic and thin film transistor technologies. Conventional mixed-phase silicon films are produced in a single plasma reactor, where the conditions of the plasma must be precisely tuned, limiting the ability to adjust the film and nanoparticle parameters independently. The films presented in this thesis are deposited using a novel dual-plasma co-deposition approach in which the nanoparticles are produced separately in an upstream reactor and then injected into a secondary reactor where an amorphous silicon film is being grown. The degree of crystallinity and grain sizes of the films are evaluated using Raman spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction respectively. I describe detailed electronic measurements which reveal three distinct conduction mechanisms in n-type doped mixed-phase amorphous/nanocrystalline silicon thin films over a range of nanocrystallite concentrations and temperatures, covering the transition from fully amorphous to ~30% nanocrystalline. As the temperature is varied from 470 to 10 K, we observe activated conduction, multiphonon hopping (MPH) and Mott variable range hopping (VRH) as the nanocrystal content is increased. The transition from MPH to Mott-VRH hopping around 100K is ascribed to the freeze out of the phonon modes. A conduction model involving the parallel contributions of these three distinct conduction mechanisms is shown to describe both the conductivity and the reduced activation energy data to a high accuracy. Additional support is provided by measurements of thermal equilibration effects and noise spectroscopy, both done above room temperature (>300 K). This thesis provides a clear link between measurement and theory in these complex materials.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2013. Major: Physics. Advisor: James Kakalios. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 105 pages.
Wienkes, Lee Raymond.
Electronic transport in mixed-phase hydrogenated amorphous/nanocrystalline silicon thin films.
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