Layers of intrinsic hydrogenated amorphous silicon and amorphous silicon carbide
were prepared on a polished, intrinsic crystalline silicon substrate via plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition to simulate heterojunction device relevant stacks of various materials. The minority carrier lifetime, optical band gap and FTIR spectra were observed at incremental stages of thermal annealing. By observing the changes in the lifetimes the sample structure responsible for the most thermally robust surface passivation could be determined. These results were correlated to the optical band gap and the position and relative area of peaks in the FTIR spectra related to to silicon-hydrogen bonds in the layers. It was found that due to an increased presence of hydrogen bonded to silicon at voids within the passivating layer, hydrogenated amorphous silicon carbide at the interface of the substrate coupled with a hydrogenated amorphous silicon top layer provides better passivation after high temperature annealing than other device structures.