Though most of the current silicon photovoltaic technology relies on trichlorosilane (SiHCl3) as a precursor gas to deposit Si, only a few studies have been devoted to the investigation of its gas phase and surface kinetics. In the present work we propose a new kinetic mechanism
apt to describe the gas phase and surface chemistry active during the deposition of Si from SiHCl3. Kinetic constants of key reactions were either taken from the literature or determined through ab initio calculations. The capability of the mechanism to reproduce experimental
data was tested through the implementation of the kinetic scheme in a fluid dynamic model and in the simulation of both deposition and etching of Si in horizontal reactors. The results of the simulations show that the reactivity of HCl is of key importance in order to control the Si deposition
rate. When HCl reaches a critical concentration in the gas phase it starts etching the Si surface, so that the net deposition rate is the net sum of the adsorption rate of the gas phase precursors and the etching rate due to HCl. In these conditions the possibility to further deposit Si is
directly related to the rate of consumption of HCl through its reaction with SiHCl3 to give SiCl4. The proposed reaction mechanism was implemented in a 3D fluid dynamic model of a simple Siemens reactor. The simulation results indicate that the proposed interpretation
of the growth process applies also to this class of reactors, which operate in what can be defined as a mixed kinetic-transport controlled regime.
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