The effect of oxide precipitates on minority carrier lifetime in n-type silicon

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Murphy, John D. ; Al-Amin, Mohammad ; Bothe, K. ; Olmo, M. ; Voronkov, V. V. ; Falster, R. J. (2015)

Supersaturated levels of interstitial oxygen in Czochralski silicon can lead to the formation of oxide precipitates. Although beneficial from an internal gettering perspective, oxygen-related extended defects give rise to recombination which reduces minority carrier lifetime. The highest efficiency silicon solar cells are made from n-type substrates in which oxide precipitates can have a detrimental impact on cell efficiency. In order to quantify and to understand the mechanism of recombination in such materials, we correlate injection level-dependent minority carrier lifetime data measured with silicon nitride surface passivation with interstitial oxygen loss and precipitate concentration measurements in samples processed under substantially different conditions. We account for surface recombination, doping level, and precipitate morphology to present a generalised parameterisation of lifetime. The lifetime data are analysed in terms of recombination activity which is dependent on precipitate density or on the surface area of different morphologies of precipitates. Correlation of the lifetime data with interstitial oxygen loss data shows that the recombination activity is likely to be dependent on the precipitate surface area. We generalise our findings to estimate the impact of oxide precipitates with a given surface area on lifetime in both n-type and p-type silicon.
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