Bridging energy bands to the crystalline and amorphous states of Si QDs

Alessi, Bruno and Macias-Montero, Manuel and Maddi, Chiranjeevi and Maguire, Paul and Svrcek, Vladimir and Mariotti, Davide (2020) Bridging energy bands to the crystalline and amorphous states of Si QDs. Faraday Discussions, 222. pp. 390-404. ISSN 1359-6640 (

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The relationship between the crystallization process and opto-electronic properties of silicon quantum dots (Si QDs) synthesized by atmospheric pressure plasmas (APPs) is studied in this work. The synthesis of Si QDs is carried out by flowing silane as a gas precursor in a plasma confined to a submillimeter space. Experimental conditions are adjusted to propitiate the crystallization of the Si QDs and produce QDs with both amorphous and crystalline character. In all cases, the Si QDs present a well-defined mean particle size in the range of 1.5–5.5 nm. Si QDs present optical bandgaps between 2.3 eV and 2.5 eV, which are affected by quantum confinement. Plasma parameters evaluated using optical emission spectroscopy are then used as inputs for a collisional plasma model, whose calculations yield the surface temperature of the Si QDs within the plasma, justifying the crystallization behavior under certain experimental conditions. We measure the ultraviolet-visible optical properties and electronic properties through various techniques, build an energy level diagram for the valence electrons region as a function of the crystallinity of the QDs, and finally discuss the integration of these as active layers of all-inorganic solar cells.