Characterization of silicon nanoparticles (Si-nps) embedded in a silicon-nitride matrix

by spectroscopic ellipsometry

Silicon nanoparticles (Si-nps) show different optical properties than bulk silicon. A strong correlation has been established between the particle size and the band-gap for example. These particular properties offer potentialities of application in optoelectronics, silicon based memories and third generation solar cells.

For this last application, nanoparticles embedded in a dielectric matrix are used to enhance the photovoltaic effect. The approach consists in reducing the losses of single band-gap solar cells, namely the ability to absorb photons with energies less than the band-gap and the losses by thermalization of the photons with energies higher than the band-gap. Thus, varying the particle size enables to optimize the absorption of light. In another hand, a precise determination of the optical properties of these nanoparticles is required for a better optimization of the efficiency of the resulting solar cells. From this point of view Spectroscopic Ellipsometry represents a technique of choice for the characterization of the optical and structural properties of these layers.

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