Displacement Damage-Induced Electrical and Structural Effects in Gallium Arsenide Solar Cells Following Ion Irradiation

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Physics, Applied

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For nearly two decades, deviations between experimental data and the nonionizing energy loss (NIEL) have been observed for GaAs devices. In particular, previous data has suggested that electrical parameters associated with GaAs solar cells can follow different energy dependences with NIEL but only at the higher proton energies. In this paper, displacement damage-induced electrical and structural effects in GaAs solar cells were monitored before and after irradiation with various ions. The radiation-induced defects responsible for causing electrical changes were characterized using illuminated current-voltage, deep level transient spectroscopy (DLTS), and electron beam induced current (EBIC) while the structural changes were monitored using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The EBIC images showed the existence of radiation-induced active recombination volumes or defect clusters after irradiation with high energy protons (E ? 10 MeV) and 22 MeV silicon ions, which were not produced by lower energy protons. The TEM images revealed strain related defects that correspond to the same irradiation conditions for which the defect clusters were observed, and therefore, the defects in the TEM images are associated with those observed in the EBIC images. These defects were not observed prior to irradiation so the lattice strain in the material is definitely associated with irradiation-induced lattice defects. HRTEM imaging has shown that the disordered regions are not amorphous but probably most likely a cluster of vacancies and a surrounding region rich in interstitials, which is produced when a large number of neighboring atoms are displaced in collision cascades known as the displacement spike. The formation of the U-band defect as determined by DLTS seems to evolve under the same irradiation conditions as the defects in the images. This very broad U-band peak is consistent with what would be expected from defect clusters. From analyses of the recoil spectra, high energy recoils appear to be responsible for the formation of these disordered regions and these regions are independent of the total displacement damage energy deposited. This study has shown that NIEL scaling is only violated for incident ion energies when the defect clusters are observed.