Evaluation of Cost-Effective Technologies for Highly Efficient Silicon-Based Solar Cells

The work underscores the feasibility of highly efficient silicon solar cell structures manufactured with high throughput machines. The main challenge consists in the implementation of more performant structures of intrinsic higher complexity. These structures are meant to be fabricated within similar constraints on time and on cost as for conventional devices of industrial manufacture. Achievements in this direction foster larger economical deployment of this kind of renewable energy. The structure chosen for the implementation of "high efficiency" concepts requires an advanced machining of the silicon substrate. Etching techniques, dielectric coating preparations, and metal to semiconductor contact formation were evaluated for their integration in a complete silicon solar cell fabrication sequence. These sequences were later tested to gain knowledge regarding the effects of the aforementioned advanced processing. Prototypes were created using the fabrication sequence. They were analysed to acquire a further understanding of the advanced processing influences. Statistical interpretation of the data obtained was used to support physical interpretation of the observed phenomena. For one particular implementation of a surface passivation (floating junction passivation) an attempt of modelling aiming to unveil its specific dynamics is reported. A resulting solar cell concept compatible with high throughput equipment achieved a certified efficiency of 18% (VOC = 635 mV, JSC = 37.3 mA/cm2, FF = 76 %) on substrate with a reduced thickness (120 µm). The resulting sequence prepares the back surface with a thermal oxidation for passivation purposes and with a laser technique to locally contact the bulk. The thickness is compatible with the intent of cost reduction through the decrease in material consumption. Other approaches performed on the same substrate achieved 17.1% efficiency (VOC = 617 mV, JSC = 36.1 mA/cm2, FF = 75 %). In this case the passivation was achieved with deposited dielectric layers on the back surface. Furthermore, the investigated dynamics of the floating junction passivation allows for better insight into its traits. The proposed solution has an interesting ratio of efficiency versus costs. The general consequence is a higher market appeal of this particular renewable source on the energy market. The study on the floating junction passivation allows a better exploitation of this particular implementation towards more performant silicon solar cells.

Related material