Laser induced sponge-like Si in Si-rich oxides for photovoltaics
We show that a sponge-like structure of interconnected Si nanowires embedded in a dielectric matrix can be obtained by laser annealing of silicon rich oxides (SRO). Due to quantum confinement, the large bandgap displayed by these percolated nanostructures can be utilized as a tandem stage in 3rd generation thin-film solar cells. Well passivated by the SiO2 dielectric matrix, they are expected to overcome the difficulty of carrier separation encountered in the case of isolated crystalline quantum dots. In this study PECVD grown SRO were irradiated by a cw Ar+ laser. Raman spectroscopy has been used to assess the crystallinity of the Si nanostructures and thus to optimize the annealing conditions as dwell times and power densities. In addition, Si plasmon imaging in the transmission electron microscope was applied to identify the sponge-like structure of phase-separated silicon. © 2013 Optical Society of America.