Thin-Film Deposition Processes

J. K. Rath

Department of Physics and Astronomy, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

6.2 Introduction

Thin-fllm silicon has been the subject of intense research for more than 40 years, both in terms of fundamental understanding of its solid-state physics background as well as of its industrial application potential. The importance of this frontier in physics is demonstrated by the first Nobel prize winner in the discipline of noncrystalline solids by N. F. Mott in 1977 [1], whereas the advantages of its industrial application are best demonstrated by the development of large-area displays and low-cost solar cells, where these last will have a tremendous effect on the way we look at the energy supply.

Though the passive elements of thin-fllm solar cells, such as the transparent con­ducting oxide (TCO), the textured surfaces, the plasmonic structures, etc. are becoming important research areas for the enhancement of cell efficiency, the active layers, i. e., the optoelectronic quality of silicon films is the most crucial and also the most demanding aspect for the performance of thin-film silicon solar cells.

While Chapter 9 will be devoted entirely on issues concerning thin-film solar cells, the subject of this chapter is a thorough discussion of the basic aspects of thin-film silicon deposition processes.