Semiconductor–insulator–semiconductor heterojunction solar cells were prepared using atomic layer deposition (ALD) technique. The silicon surface was treated with oxygen and hydrogen plasma in different orders before dielectric layer deposition. A plasma-enhanced ALD process was applied to deposit dielectric Al2O3 on the plasma pretreated n-type Si(100) substrate. Aluminum doped zinc oxide (Al:ZnO or AZO) was deposited by thermal ALD and serves as transparent conductive oxide. Based on transmission electron microscopy studies the presence of thin silicon oxide (SiOx) layer was detected at the Si/Al2O3 interface. The SiOx formation depends on the initial growth behavior of Al2O3 and has significant influence on solar cell parameters. The authors demonstrate that a hydrogen plasma pretreatment and a precursor dose step repetition of a single precursor improve the initial growth behavior of Al2O3 and avoid the SiOx generation. Furthermore, it improves the solar cell performance, which indicates a change of the Si/Al2O3 interface states.

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