Hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) films prepared by the glow discharge (GD) technique show superior optoelectronic properties over those prepared by rf sputtering (RFS). To find out whether this is associated to structural differences in the amorphous network, we have carried out a comprehensive comparison of the Raman spectra of the two types of films grown at different substrate temperatures. The use of two properly chosen excitation radiations allowed the observation of the Raman spectra from the near surface versus that from the bulk of the films. The results show that the short-range order in the bulk of GD films is close to that of the ideal tetrahedral network, having an rms bond angle deviation (Δθ) of ≈9°. In contrast, the smallest value of Δθfound in the RFS films was ≈15°. There is also a short-range order inhomogeneity in both sets of materials that can be reduced significantly by selecting the appropriate substrate temperature. The intermediate-range disorder is relatively small and uniform in GD films, while large differences exist in this parameter between the surface and bulk of RFS films. In general, the results indicate that the short-range order and the inhomogeneity in intermediate-range order present in the RFS films cannot be improved to equal those of GD materials by annealing at temperatures low enough that no substantial hydrogen effusion occurs. These structural differences are argued to be the reasons for the superior phototransport properties of GD over RFS materials and are interpreted in terms of the differences between the two deposition processes.
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Morell, G., Katiyar, R.S., Weisz, S.Z. et al. Correlation Between Phototransport and Network Order in a-Si:H. MRS Online Proceedings Library 377, 479–484 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-377-479