Absorption and emission of silicon nanocrystals embedded in SiC: Eliminating Fabry-Pérot interference

M. Schnabel, C. Summonte, S. A. Dyakov, M. Canino, L. López-Conesa, P. Löper, S. Janz, P. R. Wilshaw

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Silicon nanocrystals embedded in SiC are studied by spectrophotometry and photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy. Absorptivities are found to be affected by residual Fabry-Pérot interference arising from measurements of reflection and transmission at locations of different film thickness. Multiple computational and experimental methods to avoid these errors in thin film measurements, in general, are discussed. Corrected absorptivity depends on the quantity of Si embedded in the SiC but is independent of the Si crystallinity, indicating a relaxation of the k-conservation criterion for optical transitions in the nanocrystals. Tauc gaps of 1.8-2.0 and 2.12 eV are determined for Si nanoclusters and SiC, respectively. PL spectra exhibit a red-shift of ∼100 nm per nm nominal Si nanocluster diameter, which is in agreement with quantum confinement but revealed to be an artifact entirely due to Fabry-Pérot interference. Several simple experimental methods to diagnose or avoid interference in PL measurements are developed that are applicable to all thin films. Corrected PL is rather weak and invariant with passivation, indicating that non-paramagnetic defects are responsible for rapid non-radiative recombination. They are also responsible for the broad, sub-gap PL of the SiC, and can wholly account for the form of the PL of samples with Si nanoclusters. The PL intensity of samples with Si nanoclusters, however, can only be explained with an increased density of luminescent defects in the SiC due to Si nanoclusters, efficient tunneling of photogenerated carriers from Si nanoclusters to SiC defects, or with emission from a-Si nanoclusters. Films prepared on Si exhibit much weaker PL than the same films prepared on quartz substrates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number045307
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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