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Opto-structural properties of Si-rich SiNx with different stoichiometry

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This study deals with the fabrication and characterization of silicon nanoparticles in a SiNx dielectric matrix to have thin films of different gap energies, films essentially based on silicon. Hydrogenated silicon-rich nitride films SiNx:H with different stoichiometry X = N/Si were grown on Si substrate using industrial low-frequency plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (LF-PECVD). Optical, electrical, and structural properties of the obtained films have been studied after rapid thermal annealing at 950 °C. The GIXRD and Raman analysis demonstrate that the films contain simultaneously the hexagonal β-Si3N4 phase and crystalline silicon nanoparticles and the average size of silicon nanocrystallites is within the range of 2.5–11 nm according to the stoichiometry. A strong visible photoluminescence (PL) can be observed in silicon nitride and the evolution of PL with the NH3/SiH4 ratio is correlated with the evolution of the structure. The layers having a luminescence in the visible region present a photocurrent (PC) in the high-energy region. PC spectroscopy has clearly demonstrated the existence of increased absorption on the high-energy side associated with Si-Ncs and confirms the potential of Si-Ncs for photovoltaic applications.

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This work was supported by the “Fond National de la Recherche”, DGRSDT/MESRS, Algeria, Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

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Correspondence to F. Tiour.

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Tiour, F., Benyahia, B., Brihi, N. et al. Opto-structural properties of Si-rich SiNx with different stoichiometry. Appl. Phys. A 126, 59 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00339-019-3258-5

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  • SiNx:H
  • Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD)
  • Si nanocrystals (Si-Ncs)
  • X-ray diffraction
  • Photoluminescence