Is light-induced degradation of a-Si:H/c-Si interfaces reversible?
Thin hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) films deposited on crystalline silicon (c-Si) surfaces are sensitive probes for the bulk electronic properties of a-Si:H. Here, we use such samples during repeated low-temperature annealing and visible-light soaking to investigate the long-term stability of a-Si:H films. We observe that during annealing the electronic improvement of the interfaces follows stretched exponentials as long as hydrogen evolution in the films can be detected. Once such evolution is no longer observed, the electronic improvement occurs much faster. Based on these findings, we discuss how the reversibility of light-induced defects depends on (the lack of observable) hydrogen evolution.