Surface passivation of crystalline silicon (c-Si) is experimentally studied during the growth of a hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) and epitaxial silicon (epi-Si) passivation layer at a subnanometer to nanometer scale. The property of surface passivation is monitored in real time via in situ measurement of a photocurrent in c-Si under plasma-enhanced vapor deposition for the passivation layer growth. The measurement results suggest the following. Passivation is improved by the growth of an a-Si:H layer, where a large band offset is formed at the a-Si:H/c-Si interface, and the carrier recombination is suppressed. On the other hand, passivation is deteriorated with the growth of an ultrathin epi-Si layer (d ≲ 2.5 ± 1.0 nm) because the band offset is not formed at the interface, and plasma-induced defects are created in c-Si. However, passivation is improved with a thick epi-Si layer (d ≳ 2.5 ± 1.0 nm), where the band bending is formed near the epi-Si/c-Si interface, which partially suppresses the carrier recombination. The suppression of the plasma-induced defects as well as the formation of the band offset are important for surface passivation.
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