Recombination and trapping in multicrystalline silicon

Andres Cuevas, Matthew Stocks, Daniel Macdonald, Mark Kerr, Chris Samundsett

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    Minority carrier recombination and trapping frequently coexist in multicrystalline silicon (mc-Si), with the latter effect obscuring both transient and steady-state measurements of the photoconductance. In this paper, the injection dependence of the measured lifetime is studied to gain insight into these physical mechanisms. A theoretical model for minority carrier trapping is shown to explain the anomalous dependence of the apparent lifetime with injection level and allow the evaluation of the density of trapping centers. The main causes for volume recombination in mc-Si, impurities and crystallographic defects, are separately investigated by means of cross-contamination and gettering experiments. Metallic impurities produce a dependence of the bulk minority carrier lifetime with injection level that follows the Shockley-Read-Hall recombination theory. Modeling of this dependence gives information on the fundamental electron and hole lifetimes, with the former typically being considerably smaller than the latter, in p-type silicon. Phosphorus gettering is used to remove most of the impurities and reveal the crystallographic limits on the lifetime, which can reach 600 μs for 1.5 Ωcm mc-Si. Measurements of the lifetime at very high injection levels show evidence of the Auger recombination mechanism in mc-Si. Finally, the surface recombination velocity of the interface between mc-Si and thermally grown SiO2 is measured and found to be as low as 70 cm/s for 1.5 Ωcm material after a forming gas anneal and 40 cm/s after an alneal. These high bulk lifetimes and excellent surface passivation prove that mc-Si can have an electronic quality similar to that of single-crystalline silicon.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2026-2034
    Number of pages9
    JournalIEEE Transactions on Electron Devices
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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