A study of hydrogenated nanocrystalline silicon thin films deposited by hot-wire chemical vapour deposition (HWCVD)
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In this thesis, intrinsic hydrogenated nanocrystalline silicon thin films for solar cells application have been deposited by means of the hot – wire chemical vapour deposition (HWCVD) technique and have been characterised for their performance. It is noticed that hydrogenated nanocrystalline silicon is similar in some aspects (mainly optical) to its counterpart amorphous silicon actually used as the intrinsic layer in the photovoltaic industry. Substantial differences between the two materials have been found however in their respective structural and electronic properties. We show that hydrogenated nanocrystalline silicon retains good absorption coefficients known for amorphous silicon in the visible region. The order improvement and a reduced content of the bonded hydrogen in the films are linked to their good stability. We argue that provided a moderate hydrogen dilution ratio in the monosilane gas and efficient process pressure in the deposition chamber, intrinsic hydrogenated nanocrystalline silicon with photosensitivity better than 102 and most importantly resistant to the Staebler Wronski effect (SWE) can be produced. This work explores the optical, structural and electronic properties of this promising material whose study – samples have been exclusively produced in the HWCVD reactors based in the Solar Cells laboratory of the Physics department at the University of the Western Cape.