Proceedings PaperAmorphous Semiconductor Alloys
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Amorphous silicon (a-Si) based alloys have attracted a considerable amount of interest because of their applications in a wide variety of technologies. However, the major effort has concentrated on inexpensive photovoltaic device applications and has moved from a laboratory curiosity in the early 1970's to viable commercial applications in the 1980's. Impressive progress in this field has been made since the group at University of Dundee demonstrated that a low defect, device quality hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) 12 material could be produced using the radio frequency (r.f.) glow discharge in SiH4 gas ' and that the material could be doped n- and p-type.3 These results spurred a worldwide interest in a-Si based alloys, especially for photovoltaic devices which has resulted in a conversion efficiency approaching 12%. There is now a quest for even higher conversion efficiencies by using the multijunction cell approach. This necessitates the synthesis of new materials of differing bandgaps, which in principle amorphous semiconductors can achieve. In this article, we review some of this work and consider from a device and a materials point of view the hurdles which have to be overcome before this type of concept can be realized.