Particle growth in silane RF discharges, and the incorporation of particles into hydrogenated-amorphous-silicon (a-Si:H) devices is described. These particles have a structure similar to a-Si:H, but their incorporation into the device is believed to yield harmful voids and interfaces. Measurements of particle density and growth in a silane RF plasma, for particle diameters of 8-50 nm, are described. This particle growth rate is very rapid, and decreases in density during the growth indicate a major flux of these size particles to the substrate. Particle densities are a very strong function of pressure, film growth rate and electrode gap, increasing orders of magnitude for small increases in each parameter. A full plasma- chemistry model for particle growth from SiHm radicals and ions has been developed, and is outlined. It yields particle densities and growth rates, as a function of plasma parameters, which are in qualitative agreement with the data. It also indicates that, in addition to the diameter >2 nm particles that have been observed in films, a very large flux of SixH,, molecular radicals with × >1 also incorporate into the film. It appears that these large radicals yield more than 1% of the film for typical device-deposition conditions, so this may have a serious effect on device properties.
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