Journal article

Powder formation in SiH[sub 4]–H[sub 2] discharge in large area capacitively coupled reactors: A study of the combined effect of interelectrode distance and pressure

One of the main challenges for silicon thin film deposition for solar cell applications is to achieve high rate deposition in order to reduce the manufacturing costs. However, when silane and hydrogen are used as precursor gas in parallel plate plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition, high rate deposition is generally synonymous of powdery discharge. In this work, time- and space-resolved light scattering experiments are presented. These were performed in an industrial-type large area reactor with a variable interelectrode distance. Results show that with a standard 25 mm interelectrode distance, the fraction of silane transformed into powder can be as high as 50% and that reducing the interelectrode distance shifts to higher pressure the appearance of powder in the discharge. From a standard 25 mm interelectrode distance to a 10 mm narrow gap reactor, the threshold pressure was increased from 2 to 7 mbars. More generally, it is proposed that the onset of powder formation depends mainly on the product of the interelectrode distance and the gas residence time in the discharge.


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