The production of large area sensors is one of the main challenges that the ATLAS collaboration faces for the new Inner-Tracker full-silicon detector. During the prototype fabrication phase for the High Luminosity Large Hadron Collider upgrade, several ATLAS institutes observed indications of humidity sensitivity of large area sensors, even at relative humidities well below the dew point. Specifically, prototype Barrel and End-Cap silicon strip sensors fabricated in 6-inch wafers manifest a prompt decrease of the breakdown voltage when operating under high relative humidity, adversely affecting the performance of the sensors. In addition to the investigation of these prototype sensors, a specific fabrication batch with special passivation is also studied, allowing for a deeper understanding of the responsible mechanisms. This work presents an extensive study of this behaviour on large area sensors. The locations of the hotspots at the breakdown voltage at high humidity are revealed using different infrared thermography techniques. Several palliative treatments are attempted, proving the influence of sensor cleaning methods, as well as baking, on the device performance, but no improvement on the humidity sensitivity was achieved. Furthermore, a study of the incidence of the sensitivity in different batches is also presented, introducing a hypothesis of the origins of the humidity sensitivity associated to the sensor edge design, together with passivation thickness and conformity. Several actions to be taken during sensor production and assembly are extracted from this study, in order to minimize the impact of humidity sensitivity on the performance of large area silicon sensors for High Energy Physics experiments.

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Keywords HL-LHC, Humidity sensitivity, Large area silicon sensors, Slim-edge
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Journal Nuclear Inst. and Methods in Physics Research, A
Fernández-Tejero, J. (J.), Allport, P.P. (P. P.), Aviñó, O. (O.), Dette, K. (K.), Fadeyev, V. (V.), Fleta, C. (C.), … Wada, S. (S.). (2020). Humidity sensitivity of large area silicon sensors: Study and implications. Nuclear Inst. and Methods in Physics Research, A, 978. doi:10.1016/j.nima.2020.164406