Comparison of Silicon Photoluminescence and Photoconductive Decay for Material Quality Characterization


Minority-carrier lifetime in silicon directly relates to defect- and impurity-related recombination, and thus gives a measure of material quality. Lifetime measurements are useful in research laboratories and commercial production environments as an indicator for process development and quality control. While photoconductivity (PCD) techniques for measuring lifetime are commercially available, there has recently been interest in using photoluminescence (PL) to characterize lifetime in silicon because of the measurement speed to image an entire wafer and higher mapping resolution. The intensity of band-to-band PL is theoretically proportional to the effective bulk lifetime in low-injection conditions if carrier diffusion and reabsorption are neglected, surface recombination is small, and silicon properties, such as carrier concentration and the radiative recombination coefficient, are constant. We show data that compare lifetimes from PCD techniques to PL intensity for varying-resistivity, single-crystal silicon. Surface conditions are also varied (native oxide, thermal oxide, and HF etch/methyl-iodine solution), and the measured lifetimes are compared to corresponding PL intensity.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    M. Kunst and G. Beck, J. Appl. Phys. 60, 3558 (1986).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    R.K. Ahrenkiel and S. Johnston, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 55, 59 (1998).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    S.W. Glunz and W. Warta, J. Appl. Phys. 77, 3243 (1995).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    R.A. Sinton and A. Cuevas, Appl. Phys. Lett. 69, 2510 (1996).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    M. Bail, J. Kentsch, R. Brendel, and M. Schulz, Proceedings of the 28th IEEE-PVSC, Anchorage, AK, 99 (2000).

  6. 6.

    J. Isenberg, S. Riepe, S.W. Glunz, and W. Warta, J. Appl. Phys. 93, 4268 (2003).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    I. Tarasov, S. Ostapenko, C. Haessler, and E.-U. Reisner, Materials Science & Engineering B71, 51 (2000).

  8. 8.

    Y. Koshka, S. Ostapenko, I. Tarasov, S. McHugo, and J.P. Kalejs, Appl. Phys. Lett. 74, 1555 (1999).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    S. Ostapenko, I. Tarasov, J.P. Kalejs, C. Haessler, and E.-U. Reisner, Semicond. Sci. Technol. 15, 840 (2000).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    M. Tajima, Z. Li, S. Sumie, H. Hashizume, and A. Ogura, Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 43, 432 (2004).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    S. Martinuzzi, O. Palais, and S. Ostapenko, Materials Science in Semiconductor Processing 9, 230 (2006).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    H. Sugimoto, M. Inoue, M. Tajima, A. Ogura, and Y. Ohshita, Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 45, L641 (2006).

  13. 13.

    T. Trupke, R.A. Bardos, M.C. Schubert, and W. Warta, Appl. Phys. Lett. 89, 044107 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    M.D. Abbott, J.E. Cotter, T. Trupke, K. Fisher, and R.A. Bardos, IEEE 4th World Conf. on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion, Waikoloa, HI (2006).

  15. 15.

    T. Trupke, R.A. Bardos, M.D. Abbott, F.W. Chen, J.E. Cotter, and A. Lorenz, IEEE 4th World Conf. on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion, Waikoloa, HI (2006).

  16. 16.

    J.I. Pankove, Optical Processes in Semiconductors, (Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1975) p. 111.

  17. 17.

    R.K. Ahrenkiel, in Semiconductors and Semimetals, Vol. 39 (Academic Press, Inc., Boston 1993) pp. 39–150.

  18. 18.

    T.S. Horanyi, T. Pavelka, and P. Tutto, Appl. Surf. Sci. 63, 306 (1992).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Steven Johnston.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Johnston, S., Ahrenkiel, R., Dippo, P. et al. Comparison of Silicon Photoluminescence and Photoconductive Decay for Material Quality Characterization. MRS Online Proceedings Library 994, 09940704 (2006).

Download citation