This article is the first in a series of two reviews on the properties of iron in silicon. It offers a comprehensive summary of the current state of understanding of fundamental physical properties of iron and its complexes in silicon. The first section of this review discusses the position of iron in the silicon lattice and the electrical properties of interstitial iron. Updated expressions for the solubility and the diffusivity of iron in silicon are presented, and possible explanations for conflicting experimental data obtained by different groups are discussed. The second section of the article considers the electrical and the structural properties of complexes of interstitial iron with shallow acceptors (boron, aluminum, indium, gallium, and thallium), shallow donors (phosphorus and arsenic) and other impurities (gold, silver, platinum, palladium, zinc, sulfur, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen). Special attention is paid to the kinetics of iron pairing with shallow acceptors, the dissociation of these pairs, and the metastability of iron–acceptor pairs. The parameters of iron-related defects in silicon are summarized in tables that include more than 30 complexes of iron as detected by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and almost 20 energy levels in the band gap associated with iron. The data presented in this review illustrate the enormous complexing activity of iron, which is attributed to the partial or complete (depending on the temperature and the conductivity type) ionization of iron as well as the high diffusivity of iron in silicon. It is shown that studies of iron in silicon require exceptional cleanliness of experimental facilities and highly reproducible diffusion and temperature ramping (quenching) procedures. Properties of iron that are not yet completely understood and need further research are outlined.
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