CHAPTER 10
Polycrystalline and amorphous
semiconductors

10.1 Introduction

The reader will hardly need reminding that one of the principal emphases in our discussion throughout the book has been on the importance of high quality single crystal materials. Progress in both physical understanding and device development appears always to depend crucially on the availability of high purity, defect-free single crystals and we have followed in numerous cases a progression from tiny (perhaps naturally occurring) crystallites through bulk single crystal boules to lattice-matched epitaxial growth. Frequently, it is only at this later stage that has it been possible to obtain performance from devices which approaches theoretical expectation. Indeed, only under these circumstances can we expect simplified theoretical models to offer a reasonable approximation to practical working structures. On the other hand, the growth of such high quality crystalline material is not achieved without considerable investment in both time and effort (i.e. money!) which inevitably stimulates the thought that it would be ‘nice’ if we did not always have to do it! It is also important to recognize that situations abound where the sheer size of an electronic or optoelectronic device makes it virtually impossible to base it on single crystal material. Display systems are an obvious case in point—one could not seriously imagine making a 26 in. TV display screen from expensive single crystals. Even after decades of development, silicon single crystal boules have only now achieved 12 in. diameters and no other semiconductor is even within range of this. Which, at least in part, explains why the cathode ray tube has for so long dominated the display field. High power solar cell electricity generators represent another obvious example where the large areas involved, at least, militate against the use of single crystal material, stimulating the thought that it might be possible to satisfy at least some system demands with non-single crystal material.

In Chapter 9 we instanced an example of quite useful performance from lead chalcogenide infrared photoconductors in the form of polycrystalline thin films, deposited on glass or vitreous quartz substrates, a completely non-single crystal approach; as far back as Chapter 3, we

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The Story of Semiconductors
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents xi
  • Chapter 1 - Perspectives 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Cat's Whiskers 19
  • Chapter 3 - Minority Rule 47
  • Chapter 4 - Silicon, Silicon, and Yet More Silicon 93
  • Chapter 5 - The Compound Challenge 149
  • Chapter 6 - Low Dimensional Structures 213
  • Chapter 7 - Let There Be Light 277
  • Chapter 8 - Communicating with Light 331
  • Chapter 9 - Semiconductors in the Infrared 385
  • Chapter 10 - Polycrystalline and Amorphous Semiconductors 447
  • Index 503
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