We demonstrate a mechanism of solid-phase crystallization (SPC) enabled by nanoscale cavities formed at the interface between an hydrogenated amorphous silicon film and embedded 30 to 40 nm Si nanocrystals. The nanocavities, 10 to 25 nm across, have the unique property of an internal surface that is part amorphous and part crystalline, enabling capillarity-driven diffusion from the amorphous to the crystalline domain. The nanocavities propagate rapidly through the amorphous phase, up to five times faster than the SPC growth rate, while "pulling behind" a crystalline tail. Using transmission electron microscopy it is shown that twin boundaries exposed on the crystalline surface accelerate crystal growth and influence the direction of nanocavity propagation.
- Amorphous silicon
- solid-phase crystallization
- transmission electron microscopy