Available online 12 October 2009.
A simple, effective and innovative approach based on low-pressure, thermally nonequilibrium, high-density inductively coupled plasmas is proposed to rapidly synthesize Si quantum dots (QDs) embedded in an amorphous SiC (a-SiC) matrix at a low substrate temperature and without any commonly used hydrogen dilution. The experimental results clearly demonstrate that uniform crystalline Si QDs with a size of 3–4 nm embedded in the silicon-rich (carbon content up to 10.7at.%) a-SiC matrix can be formed from the reactive mixture of silane and methane gases, with high growth rates of 1.27–2.34 nm s−1 and at a low substrate temperature of 200 °C. The achievement of the high-rate growth of Si QDs embedded in the a-SiC without any commonly used hydrogen dilution is discussed based on the unique properties of the inductively coupled plasma-based process. This work is particularly important for the development of the all-Si tandem cell-based third generation photovoltaic solar cells.
Keywords: Chemical vapor deposition; Quantum dots; Inductively coupled plasmas; Solar cells
Corresponding author. Address: Plasma Nanoscience Centre Australia (PNCA), CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering, PO Box 218, Lindfield, NSW 2070, Australia. Tel.: +61 2 94137634; fax: +61 2 94137200.