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The quality of low-temperature (/spl ap/400/spl deg/C) atmospheric pressure chemical vapor deposited (APCVD) silicon dioxide (SiO/sub 2/) films has been improved by a short time rapid thermal annealing (RTA) step. The RTA step followed by a low temperature (400/spl deg/C) forming gas anneal (FGA) results in a well-passivated Si-SiO/sub 2/ interface, comparable to thermally grown conventional oxides. Efficient and stable surface passivation is obtained by this technique on virgin silicon as well as on photovoltaic devices with diffused (n/sup +/p) emitter surface while maintaining a very low thermal budget. Device parameters are improved by this APCVD/RTA/FGA passivation process.