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High-Throughput Low Frequency Reactor for Non-Thermal Plasma Synthesis of Amorphous Silicon Nanoparticles

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The purpose of this article is to increase availability and applicability of laboratory and industrial scale non-thermal plasma synthesis of nanoparticles. To that end, the article describes an original apparatus setup for the preparation of amorphous silicon nanoparticles from silane, as well as identification and characterization of the product. Glow discharge is generated through direct contact of a gas mixture with electrodes, an accessible 8 kHz power source is used. Hydrogen, argon, air, and mixtures thereof are considered as the dilutant gases. The methods employed include SEM, vibrational spectroscopy and total reflection XRF spectroscopy. On the basis of vibrational spectra interpretation the particles are found to consist of hydrogenated amorphous silicon. According to IR spectroscopy data, the surface passivation is largely with SiH2 groups when hydrogen or argon are used, in the case of air dilution the particles are readily surface oxidized. Attained mean sizes are on the order of 30–60 nm, as estimated with SEM. Possible electrode-borne impurities are determined to constitute less than 100 ppm of the samples. Partial crystallization, evident from Raman spectra, is observed only for high (60:1) hydrogen dilution with a low silane flow rate. Intermediate values of plasma power are found to be optimal for maximization of the production rate (up to 690 mg/h). Near total conversion of the precursor is demonstrated. The presented reactor design shows record performance in terms of the production rate, high efficiency in the reactant usage. Crucially, elemental purity of the product is not affected by electrode sputtering.

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Data Availability

The source data are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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The authors acknowledge support from M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University Program of Development in the form of access to a S2 Picofox TXRF spectrometer and a Frontier FTIR spectrometer.


This work was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (project no. 22–23-00540).

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Authors and Affiliations



Sergey G. Dorofeev, Ilya V. Yudin and Nikolay N. Kononov constructed the synthetic apparatus; Sergei S. Bubenov and Alexander A. Vinokurov performed syntheses of the material, Sergei S. Bubenov, Vadim M. Popelensky and Tatyana A. Kuznetsova performed sample characterization; Sergey G. Dorofeev conceptualized and supervised the research; Sergei S. Bubenov wrote the original draft of the text and prepared the figures; all authors reviewed the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sergey G. Dorofeev.

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Bubenov, S.S., Vinokurov, A.A., Yudin, I.V. et al. High-Throughput Low Frequency Reactor for Non-Thermal Plasma Synthesis of Amorphous Silicon Nanoparticles. Silicon 16, 1775–1783 (2024).

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