We use fluctuation electron microscopy to determine changes in the medium-range structural order of un-hydrogenated amorphous silicon thin films after they are exposed to atomic hydrogen at a substrate temperature of 230 °C. The films are deposited by magnetron sputtering at either 230 or 350 °C substrate temperature to obtain starting states with small or large initial medium-range order, respectively. The in-diffusion of atomic hydrogen causes the medium-range order to decrease for the small initial order but to increase for the large initial order. We suggest that this behavior can be understood in terms of classical nucleation theory: The ordered regions of small diameter are energetically unstable and can lower their energy by evolving towards a continuous random network, whereas the ordered regions of large diameter are energetically stable and can lower their energy by coarsening towards the nanocrystalline state.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)