Shaping thin film growth and microstructure pathways via plasma and deposition energy: a detailed theoretical, computational and experimental analysis†
Understanding the science and engineering of thin films using plasma assisted deposition methods with controlled growth and microstructure is a key issue in modern nanotechnology, impacting both fundamental research and technological applications. Different plasma parameters like electrons, ions, radical species and neutrals play a critical role in nucleation and growth and the corresponding film microstructure as well as plasma-induced surface chemistry. The film microstructure is also closely associated with deposition energy which is controlled by electrons, ions, radical species and activated neutrals. The integrated studies on the fundamental physical properties that govern the plasmas seek to determine their structure and modification capabilities under specific experimental conditions. There is a requirement for identification, determination, and quantification of the surface activity of the species in the plasma. Here, we report a detailed study of hydrogenated amorphous and crystalline silicon (c-Si:H) processes to investigate the evolution of plasma parameters using a theoretical model. The deposition processes undertaken using a plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition method are characterized by a reactive mixture of hydrogen and silane. Later, various contributions of energy fluxes on the substrate are considered and modeled to investigate their role in the growth of the microstructure of the deposited film. Numerous plasma diagnostic tools are used to compare the experimental data with the theoretical results. The film growth and microstructure are evaluated in light of deposition energy flux under different operating conditions.