Recently, hot-wire deposited microcrystalline silicon has attracted increasing attention. The use of hot-wire deposited intrinsic μc-Si:H for high efficiency solar cells was demonstrated by Klein et al. . Integration of high-quality intrinsic μc-Si:H into all-hot-wire nip solar cells, prepared close to the transition to amorphous growth using a tantalum catalyzer, resulted in initial and stable efficiencies of 5.4 % on simple stainless steel substrates . However, the deposition rates for the absorber material in both cases remained low, at values around 1 Å/s.
In the present study we report on the dependence of deposition rate and material quality on the design and area of the tantalum catalyzer. It was found that different filament geometries require considerable changes in certain deposition conditions to optimize material properties. So, for example, enlarging the catalyzer surface made it necessary to decrease the hydrogen dilution of the process gas, in order to obtain the desired microcrystalline material close to the phase transition. These changes might be understood in terms of alterations of the gas decomposition relations on the catalyzer surface. For these modified conditions, deposition rates in the range of 2.5-10 Å/s could be achieved for μc-Si:H due to the fact that a higher silane fraction of the process gas could be used. For different wire geometries, the optimized intrinsic layers were incorporated into solar cells. Using a catalyzer with modified geometry and enlarged surface area, conversion efficiencies of ν = 4.4 % could be achieved for all-μc-Si:H, all-HWCVD solar cells at a rate of about 3 Å/s.