Characterization of grain boundary geometry in the TEM, exemplified in Si thin films

János L. Lábár, Ákos K. Kiss, Silke Christiansen, Fritz Falk

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Citations (Scopus)


A method is presented here for complete geometrical characterization of grain boundaries, based on measurement of thin films in the TEM. First, the three parameters, characterizing the misorientation of the two neighboring grains are determined from convergent beam electron diffraction (CBED). Next, the last two (of the total five macroscopic degrees of freedom) parameters are determined from bright field (BF) images to describe the orientation of the boundary plane between them. Ambiguity in the tilt direction of the plane is resolved from BF images recorded at two distinct goniometer settings. Application of the method is demonstrated in Silicon thin films. Grain boundary (GB) plane distribution in a thin film is not necessarily identical to the distribution of similar planes in bulk materials. It was observed in low dimensional fcc metals (wires or thin films) that energy minimization of GBs can follow two (mainly alternative) routes. Either low energy planes (like {111}) are formed in ∑3 boundaries, or alternatively, it is observed that the GB plane has a general index (and high energy density) but it ends at both free surfaces of the sample, resulting in a GB, almost normal to the sample surface, minimizing the total area of the GB. We observed that this later type of planes is mainly characteristic of non-∑3 boundaries in thin Si films, crystallized from melt on glass substrates (separated by a thin SiN barrier layer). This observation is important for the expected recombination properties of the multicrystalline Si (m-Si) in planned solar cell (SC) applications.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationElectron Microscopy XIV
PublisherTrans Tech Publications Ltd
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9783037853818
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2012
Event14th International Conference on Electron Microscopy, EM 2011 - Wisla, Poland
Duration: Jun 26 2011Jun 30 2011

Publication series

NameSolid State Phenomena
ISSN (Print)1012-0394


Other14th International Conference on Electron Microscopy, EM 2011


  • Grain boundary
  • Grain boundary (GB) plane
  • Si
  • TEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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    Lábár, J. L., Kiss, Á. K., Christiansen, S., & Falk, F. (2012). Characterization of grain boundary geometry in the TEM, exemplified in Si thin films. In Electron Microscopy XIV (pp. 7-12). (Solid State Phenomena; Vol. 186). Trans Tech Publications Ltd.