Twin-Mediated Crystal Growth: An Enigma Resolved

Ashwin Shahani

Assistant Professor

2034 H.H. Dow

T: (734) 764-5648



Ashwin J Shahani, E. B Gulsoy, Stefan O Poulsen, Xianghui Xiao, and Peter W Voorhees (2016)

Scientific Reports, 6.

During crystal growth, faceted interfaces may be perturbed by defects, leading to a rich variety of polycrystalline growth forms. One such defect is the coherent Sigma 3 \111\ twin boundary, which is widely known to catalyze crystal growth. These defects have a profound effect on the properties of many materials: for example, electron-hole recombination rates strongly depend on the character of the twin boundaries in polycrystalline Si photovoltaic cells. However, the morphology of the twinned interface during growth has long been a mystery due to the lack of four-dimensional (i.e., space and time resolved) experiments. Many controversial mechanisms have been proposed for this process, most of which lack experimental verification. Here, we probe the real-time interfacial dynamics of polycrystalline Si particles growing from an Al-Si-Cu liquid via synchrotron-based X-ray tomography. Our novel analysis of the time evolution of the interfacial normals allows us to quantify unambiguously the habit plane and grain boundary orientations during growth. This, when combined with direct measurements of the interfacial morphology provide the first confirmation of twin-mediated growth, proposed over 50 years ago. Using the insights provided by these experiments, we have developed a unified picture of the phenomena responsible for the dynamics of faceted Si growth.

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