Athermal Annealing of Silicon
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We demonstrate a new mechanism for annealing silicon that does not involve the direct application of heat as in conventional thermal annealing or pulsed laser annealing. A laser pulse focused to high power on a small surface spot of a neutron-transmutation-doped silicon slab is shown to anneal regions far outside the illuminated spot where no heat was directly deposited. Electrical activation of donors throughout the slab was uniform and comparable to that of thermally annealed control samples. We conjecture that the annealing was caused by mechanical energy introduced by the laser pulse. This new method may provide a viable alternative for annealing semiconductors or other materials.