Conference paper

TEM characterization of textured silicon heterojunction solar cells

Increasing the efficiency of crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells requires the reduction of both bulk and interface recombination. Even if bulk recombination is almost suppressed, the symmetry of the crystal lattice is disturbed at the surface and hence, due in particular to non-saturated bonds (dangling bonds), a large density of defects exists. Thus, in this case, the free-carrier lifetimes are no longer limited by the quality of the bulk c-Si, but by its surface. To keep the recombination losses at the c-Si surface at minimal levels, the surface must be electronically well passivated. An efficient way to obtain passivation is to use low temperature grown (typically 200°C) hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) [1]. In the case of photovoltaic applications, the passivation of both c-Si wafer surfaces (i.e., the emitter and the rear surface) is of crucial importance for good performances. In this work, the 3-7 nm a-Si:H based passivation layers of the device are grown by VHF-PECVD in a single chamber. The solar cells consist of a multilayered structure: Al back contact / DC-sputtered ITO (Indium Tin Oxyde) / n/i a-Si:H back surface field (BSF) / n-type c-Si substrate with a resistivity of 1-3 Ωcm / intrinsic a-Si:H / i/p a-Si:H emitter / and a front contact made out of DC-sputtered ITO via a shadow mask to define the cells (diameter = 4.5 mm). Such devices are called heterojunction (HJ) silicon solar cells. Surface recombination losses are a major concern for all c-Si solar cells. In particular, mastering of HJ emitter and back surface field formation on textured c-Si is crucial for high-performance HJ solar cells. High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (HRTEM) is necessary to identify the key microstructural features of the a-Si:H/c-Si interface, and TEM micrographs of HJ interfaces on flat and textured high-performance devices are shown for the first time and discussed with respect to the resulting solar cell electrical performances. TEM micrographs of our flat high-efficiency HJs show abrupt c-Si/a-Si:H/μc-Si:H interfaces for emitter and BSF formation. Whereas on the pyramidal facets of the textured substrate the growth is identical to the flat substrate interface, we observed unexpected epitaxial growth at the bottom of the pyramid valleys. We have identified these local epitaxial domains as an efficient surface recombination path, and by consequence, as responsible for the observed decreased VOC on textured HJ cells. When minimizing the density of epitaxial domains at the c-Si/a-Si:H interface by adapting the deposition conditions, a solar cell VOC of 660 mV is obtained. An additional modification of the textured c-Si surface morphology leads to VOCs as high as 700 mV.


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