We have studied mechanisms of back-contact formation in screen-printed Si solar cells by a fire-through process. An optimum firing temperature profile leads to the formation of a P-Si/P+- Si/ Si-Al eutectic/agglomerated Al at the back contact of a Si solar cell. Variations in the interface properties were found to arise from Al-Si melt instabilities. Experiments were performed to study melt formation. We show that this process is strongly controlled by diffusion of Si into Al. During the ramp-up, a melt is initiated at the Si-Al interface, which subsequently expands into Al and Si. During the ramp-down, the melt freezes, which causes the doped region to grow epitaxially on Si, followed by solidification of the Si-Al eutectic. Any agglomerated (or sintered) Al particles are dispersed with Si. Implications on the performance of the cell are described.