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Amit Solanki

Electrical and optical properties of single silicon nanowires

Published on 6 December 2012

Thesis presented December 06, 2012

In this work we present the characterization of the light absorption properties of single silicon NWs (NW) using photocurrent spectroscopy along with the preliminary work done at the wire scale to characterize the dopant incorporation and the fabrication of junctions. First, we start with a description of the growth methods used to synthesize active NW's for photocurrent generation, with results obtained on the use of hydrogen chloride in the CVD VLS growth of doped NWs. This method offers highly straight structures, widened process temperatures allowing in particular very efficient boron incorporation—ionized acceptors densities up to 1.819 cm-3 and inhibited gold diffusion, thereby greatly reducing elemental contamination from the catalyst. Focus is made on the junction formation, the study of its electrical characteristics and the influence of morphological parameters—radius, axial position—to obtain the desired doping properties. In a second part, we present the photocurrent response of a set of different diameter active Si NWs and correlate our results with an analytical treatment of the photon absorption at the nanoscale using the Lorentz Mie theory adapted to the cylindrical geometry under study. Very good agreement is found between experiment and theory for both polarization spectra (TE-TM). Absorption resonances are resolved, corresponding to leak resonant modes, and can display absorption efficiencies higher than one, making downscaling an efficient tool to increase energy harvesting capabilities. In a last part, we adapt the antireflective coating strategy used in solar cells to improve the coupling of the incoming light to Si NWs. For this, SiO2 and Si3N4 films are deposited on NWs using PECVD, providing a set of structures coated with a high level of conformity. Based on the new set of spectra we obtain the relative gain curves and compare them with analytical calculations specifically derived for getting the absorption in the core of coaxial nanocylinders only, which allows estimating the magnitude of the absorbed energy in the dielectric shell.

Photovoltaics, Silicon, Mie Theory, Photocurrent, Nanowires

On-line thesis.