Plasma deposition of hydrogenated amorphous silicon: Studies of the growth surface

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This review focusses on the plasma-surface interactions and surface processes involved in a-Si: H thin film growth. We restrict our discussion of growth fluxes to a summary, and do not address plasma kinetics. In recent years, powerful in situ experiments have been carried out on the growing film surface, which reveal the adsorption, penetration, reaction, and elimination of precursor species, as well as the atomic-scale morphology and composition of the growth zone. Good data sets are available both for PACVD and reactive magnetron sputter deposition. These form an interesting comparison, since the former process is dominated by the hydrogen-rich radical SiH3 at low energy, and the latter by energetic atomic Si and H. We review the key experiments and conclusions, underlining those aspects which are well established and those which remain qualitative; and we discuss the transition from amorphous to fine-grained polycrystalline film growth at high hydrogen pressures in terms of the surface mechanisms. This field is now entering a scientific stage where a detailed theory of low-temperature, plasma-assisted growth can be developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-512
Number of pages20
JournalApplied Physics A Solids and Surfaces
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1993


  • 81.15.Cd
  • 81.15.Gh
  • 82.65.Yh

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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