Polycrystalline ZnO:B grown by LPCVD as TCO for thin film silicon solar cells
Conductive zinc oxide (ZnO) grown by low pressure chemical vapor deposition (LPCVD) technique possesses a rough surface that induces an efficient light scattering in thin film silicon (TF Si) solar cells, which makes this TCO an ideal candidate for contacting such devices. IMT-EPFL has developed an in-house LPCVD process for the deposition of nanotextured boron doped ZnO films used as rough TCO for TF Si solar cells. This paper is a general review and synthesis of the study of the electrical, optical and structural properties of the ZnO:B that has been performed at IMT-EPFL. The influence of the free carrier absorption and the grain size on the electrical and optical properties of LPCVD ZnO:B is discussed. Transport mechanisms at grain boundaries are studied. It is seen that high doping of the ZnO grains facilitates the tunnelling of the electrons through potential barriers that are located at the grain boundaries. Therefore, even if these potential barriers increase after an exposition of the film to a humid atmosphere, the heavily doped LPCVD ZnO:B layers show a remarkable stable conductivity. However, the introduction of diborane in the CVD reaction induces also a degradation of the intra-grain mobility and increases over-proportionally the optical absorption of the ZnO:B films. Hence, the necessity to finely tune the doping level of LPCVD ZnO:B films is highlighted. Finally, the next challenges to push further the optimization of LPCVD ZnO:B films for thin film silicon solar cells are discussed, as well as some remarkable record cell results achieved with LPCVD ZnO:B as front electrode.