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J Luo, A Alateeqi, L Liu and T Sinno
Abstract
The nucleation and growth of SiC precipitates in liquid silicon is important in the crystallization of silicon used for the photovoltaic industry. These processes depend strongly on the carbon concentration as well as the equilibrium solubility relative to the precipitate phase. Here, using a suite of statistical thermodynamic techniques, we calculate the solubility of carbon atoms in liquid silicon relative to the β-SiC phase. We employ several available empirical potentials to assess whether these potentials may reasonably be used to computationally analyze SiC precipitation. We find that some of the Tersoff-type potentials provide an excellent picture for carbon solubility in liquid silicon but, because of their severe silicon melting point overestimation, are limited to high temperatures where the carbon solubility is several percent, a value that is irrelevant for typical solidification conditions. Based on chemical potential calculations for pure silicon, we suggest that this well-known issue is confined to the description of the liquid phase and demonstrate that some recent potential models for silicon might address this weakness while preserving the excellent description of the carbon-silicon interaction found in the existing models.
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