Theses Doctoral

2-D Melting in Excimer-Laser Irradiated Polycrystalline Silicon Films

Wong, Vernon

This thesis examines the excimer-laser-induced melting of ELA-prepared silicon films using in situ transient reflectance and transmission analysis. The results clearly show that these polycrystalline films, which consist of columnar grains in contact with SiO₂, can melt in a largely and remarkably 2-D manner. Based on the presently and previously obtained experimental results, as well as considering the thermal, thermodynamic, and kinetic aspects of the melting-transition-relevant details, we suggest a model that consists of grain-boundary-initiated melting, followed by lateral melting proceeding into the transiently superheated interior of the grains. Additional experiments are performed which demonstrate how this 2-D melting behavior at least stems intrinsically from the presence in the material of melt-prone grain boundaries and superheating-permitting Si/SiO₂ interfaces.

Next, the phase and temperature evolutions of the irradiated films are investigated using a numerical simulation program, which incorporates key material, thermodynamic, and kinetic parameters. We find that the center portion of the grains during (partial) melting (1) corresponds to, especially at the SiO₂-passivated surface, the hottest regions of the films during rapid heating, and (2) remains entirely solid throughout the thickness of the film, as the maximum temperature sustained in these unmelted solids remains well below the superheating limit of silicon at the Si/SiO₂ interface.

Lastly, we discuss, and substantiate with results obtained from numerical simulations, the role that the manifested dimensionality of melting plays in dictating the efficiency with which the ELA crystallization technique can generate microstructurally uniform polycrystalline materials. The current discovery regarding the 2-D nature of melting should be recognized and appreciated as a critical process-enabling element for ELA, as the scenario permits microstructure evolution of the grains to take place in an effective manner.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Materials Science and Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Im, James Sungbin
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
December 14, 2020