Silicon nanostructures for electro-optical and photovoltaic applications

Kulakcı, Mustafa
Recently extensive efforts have been spent in order to achieve all silicon based photonic devices exploiting the efficient light emission from nanostructured silicon systems. In this thesis, silicon based nanostructures have been investigated for electro-optical and photovoltaic applications. The thesis focused on three application areas of silicon nanostructures: Light emitting diode (LED), light modulation using quantum confined Stark effect (QCSE) and photovoltaic applications. In the context of LED applications, ZnO nanocrystal/silicon heterojunctions were investigated. Contrary to observation of pure ultraviolet photoluminescence (PL) from ZnO nanocrystals that were synthesized through vapor liquid solidification (VLS) method, visible emissions were observed in the electroluminescence (EL) due to defect states of ZnO. The discrepancy between these emissions could be ascribed to both change in excitation mechanisms and the defect formation on ZnO nanocrystals surface during device fabrication steps. EL properties of silicon nanocrystals embedded in SiO2 matrix were also systematically studied with and without Tb doping. Turn-on voltage of the Tb doped LED structures was reduced below 10 V for the first time. Clear observation of QCSE has been demonstrated for the first time in Si nanocrystals embedded in SiO2 through systematic PL measurements under external electric field. Temperature and size dependence of QCSE measurements were consistently supported by our theoretical calculations using linear combination of bulk Bloch bands (LCBB) as the expansion basis. We have managed to modulate the exciton energy as high as 80 meV with field strength below MV/cm. Our study could be a starting point for fabrication of electro-optical modulators in futures for all silicon based photonic applications. In the last part of the thesis, formation kinetics of silicon nanowires arrays using a solution based novel technique called as metal assisted etching (MAE) has been systematically studied over large area silicon wafers. In parametric studies good control over nanowire formation was provided. Silicon nanowires were tested as an antireflective layer for industrial size solar cell applications. It was shown that with further improvements in surface passivation and contact formation, silicon nanowires could be utilized in very efficient silicon solar cells.
Citation Formats
M. Kulakcı, “Silicon nanostructures for electro-optical and photovoltaic applications,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2012.