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We show that high-efficiency and low-degradation hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) p-i-n solar cells can be obtained by depositing absorber layers in a triode-type plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) process. Although the deposition rate is relatively low (0.01-0.03 nm/s) compared to the conventional diode-type PECVD process (∼0.2 nm/s), the light-induced degradation in conversion efficiency of single-junction solar cell is substantially reduced (Δη/ηini∼10%) due to the suppression of light-induced metastable defects in the a-Si:H absorber layer. So far, we have attained an independently-confirmed stabilized efficiency of 10.11% for a 220-nm-thick a-Si:H solar cell which was light soaked under 1 sun illumination for 1000 hours at cell temperature of 50°C. We further demonstrate that stabilized efficiencies as high as 10% can be maintained even when the solar cell is thickened to >300 nm.
We have investigated the passivation of low lifetime non-polished Czochralski (CZ) mono-crystalline silicon (c-Si) wafers by hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H), deposited by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) technique. The dependence of the effective lifetime (τeff) on the deposition parameters including hydrogen gas flow, power and temperature has been studied. Minority carrier lifetime was measured as deposited and also after an annealing step in both quasi-steady-state (QSS) and transient mode of photoconductance decay. By comparison between τeff measured in each of the aforementioned modes, two distinguishable behaviors could be observed. Moreover, to get further insight into the surface passivation mechanism, we have modeled the recombination at a-Si:H/c-Si interface based on the amphoteric nature of dangling bonds. The results of our modeling show that the discrepancy observed between QSS and transient mode is due to the high recombination rate that exists in the bulk of defective CZ wafer and also partly related to the different thicknesses monitored in each mode. So, by comparison between the injection level dependency of τeff measured in QSS and transient modes, we introduce a valuable technique for the evaluation of c-Si bulk lifetime.
We conduct a comparative study mainly on two types of nc-Si based solar cell structures, a-Si/a-SiGe/nc-Si triple-junction and a-Si/nc-Si double-junction. We have attained comparable initial efficiency for the both solar cell structures, 10.8∼11.8% initial total area efficiency (85 - 95W over an area of 0.79 m2). For better compatibility to our installed manufacturing equipment, we deposit a-Si and a-SiGe component cells with the existing deposition machines. Only nc-Si bottom component cells are prepared in separate deposition machines tailored for nc-Si process. Material properties of nc-Si and TCO films are also studied by Raman spectra, SEM, and AFM.
In this contribution, we show that the dominant electroluminescent emission of hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) thin-film solar cells follows a diode law, whose radiative ideality factor nr is larger than one. This is in contrast to crystalline silicon and Cu(In, Ga)Se2 solar cells for which nr equals one. As a consequence, the existing quantitative analysis for the extraction of the local junction voltage Vj(r) from luminescence images fails for a-Si:H solar cells. We expand the existing analysis method, and include the radiative ideality factor nr into the model. With this modification, we are able to determine the local junction voltage Vj(r) for a-Si:H solar cells and modules. We investigated the local junction voltage Vj(r) and the radiative ideality factor nr for both initial and stabilized a-Si:H solar modules. Furthermore, we show that the apparent radiative ideality factor is affected by the spectral sensitivity of the used camera system.
Noise and electrical conductivity measurements were made at temperatures ranging from approximately 270°K to 320°K on devices fabricated on as grown Boron doped p-type a-Si:H films. The room temperature 1/f noise was found to be proportional to the bias voltage and inversely proportional to the square root of the device area. As a result, the 1/f noise can be described by Hooge’s empirical expression . The 1/f noise was found to be independent of temperature in the range investigated even though the device conductivity changed by a factor of approximately 4 over this range. Conductivity temperature measurements exhibit a T-0.25 dependence, indicative of conduction via localized states in the valence band tail [2,3]. In addition, multiple authors have analyzed hole mobility in a-Si:H and find that the hole mobility depends on the scattering of mobile holes by localized states in the valence band tail [4-7]. We conclude that the a-Si:H carrier concentration does not change appreciably with temperature, and thus, the resistance change in this temperature range is due to the temperature dependence of the hole mobility. Our results are applicable to a basic understanding of noise and conductivity requirements for a-Si:H materials used for microbolometer ambient temperature infrared detection.
The use of a laser annealing and chemical texturing process (dubbed the LaText process) on room-temperature sputtered ZnO:Al has been shown to generate unusually high haze properties, favorable for thin film silicon solar cells.This is due to the melting of the ZnO:Al layer by the XeCl laser, and the formation of crystalline domains onthe surface, for which the grains and grain boundaries are subsequently etched at different rates. The unusual surface morphology produced through this process can strongly impact the nature of the amorphous or microcrystalline silicon material deposited thereupon. In this paper, we report on results for amorphous silicon devices, for which the surface texture is seen to slightly impact thelight absorption in the material, but more interestingly, also the light-induced degradation of the cells.For co-deposited cells, devices deposited on surfaces with the characteristic "LaText" morphologyundergo a much lesser degradation. Furthermore, the decreased degree of degradation coincides with a notable shift in the Raman scattering peak. This provides a rapid diagnostic for testing multiple textures and deposition parameters.
PECVD growth of the microcrystalline silicon junction on a highly textured amorphous top cell often leads to defective absorber layers and finally to low quality bottom cell. This paper reports on the current status of using an innovative smoothening/reflective layer (SRL) as alternative intermediate reflector between top and bottom cell of a Micromorph tandem device deposited on as-grown highly textured LPCVD ZnO layer. Manufacturing of the SRL layer is realized by “liquid phase” deposition technologies. Optical and electrical properties, smoothening effect and photoelectrical results of Micromorph tandem devices are discussed. The implementation of our novel SRL results in the growth of a crack-free bottom cell and to an efficient current transfer from the bottom to the top cell.
In this study, A H2-plasma is studied as a dry method to etch thin layers of amorphous silicon aSi:H(i) deposited on a crystalline wafer. It is found that H2-plasma etches aSi:H(i) selectively toward silicon nitrides hard masks with an etch rate below 3nm/min. Depending on power density and temperature of the substrate during the H2-plasma, the energy bandgap, the hydrides distribution and the void concentration of the aSi:H(i) layers are modified and the amorphous-to-crystalline transition is approached. At high temperature (>250C) and low plasma power (<20mW/cm2), the dihydride (SiH2) content increases and the bandgap widens. The etch rates stays below 0.5 nm/min. At low temperature (<150°C) and high power (>70mW/cm2), the void concentration increases significantly and etch rates up to 3nm/min are recorded.
These findings are supported by a theoretical model that indicates formation of Si-H-Si precursors in the layer during exposure to H2-plasma. According to the experimental conditions, these precursors either diffuses and forms Si-Si strong bonds or are removed from the film, causing layer etching.
We have measured the attenuation of longitudinal acoustic waves in a series of amorphous and nanocrystalline silicon films using picosecond ultrasonics. We determined the attenuation of amorphous Si to be lower than what is predicted by theories based on anharmonic interactions of the ultrasound wave with localized phonons or extended resonant modes. We determined the attenuation of nanocrystalline Si to be nearly one order of magnitude higher than amorphous Si.
In the last decades many techniques have been proposed to manufacture thin (<50µm) silicon solar cells. The main issues in manufacturing thin solar cells are the unavailability of a reliable method to produce thin silicon foils with contained material losses (kerf-losses) and the difficulties in handling and processing such fragile foils. A way to solve both issues is to grow an epitaxial foil on top of a weak sintered porous silicon layer. The porous silicon layer is formed by electrochemical etching on a thick silicon substrate and then annealed to close the top surface. This surface is employed as seed layer for the epitaxial growth of a silicon layer which can be partially processed while attached on the substrate that provides mechanical support. Afterward, the foil can be bonded on glass, detached and further processed at module level. The efficiency of the final solar cell will depend on the quality of the epitaxial layer which, in turn, depends on the seed layer smoothness.
Several parameters can be adjusted to change the morphology and, hence, the properties of the porous layer, both in the porous silicon formation and the succeeding thermal treatment. This work focuses on the effect of the parameters that control the porous silicon formation on the structure of the porous silicon layer after annealing and, more specifically, on the roughness of the top surface. The reported analysis shows how the roughness of the seed layer can be reduced to improve the quality of the epitaxial growth.
In this paper we present a monolithically integrated wavelength selector based on a double pin/pin a-SiC:H integrated optical active filter that requires optical switches to select visible wavelengths. Red, green, blue and violet pulsed communication channels are transmitted together, each one with a specific bit sequence. The combined optical signal is analyzed by reading out the generated photocurrent, under violet (400 nm) background applied either from the front or the back side of the device. The front and back backgrounds acts as channel selectors that selects one or more channels by splitting portions of the input multi-channel optical signals across the front and the back photodiodes. The transfer characteristics effects due to changes irradiation side are presented. The relationship between the optical inputs and the corresponding digital output levels is established through a 16-element look-up table to perform the optoelectronic conversion.
Results show that the wavelength selector acts as a reconfigurable active filter that enhances the spectral sensitivity in a specific wavelength range and quenched it in the others, tuning a specific band. A binary weighted RGBV code that takes into account the specific weights assigned to each bit position is presented and establishes the optoelectronic functions.
In this paper we present the design of an optical transmission system, using plastic optical fiber (POF), which operates in the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The optical signals are generated by modulated visible LEDs, transmitted through POF and at the reception end a pin-pin photodetector is implemented. A computer simulation tool dedicated to the analysis of optical circuits was used for preliminary analysis of the optical system. The performance of the optical link was analyzed by BER prediction variation on the transmission rate. The tested optical system was assembled using high efficiency LEDs of the same wavelengths, a commercial POF and a pin-pin photodetector based on a-SiC:H/a-SI:H. This detector behaves as an optical filter with controlled wavelength sensitivity. Different optical signals, obtained by adequate modulation of LED optical sources, were coupled into the POF and the combined optical signal at the fiber termination was directed onto the photodetector active area. The output photocurrent was measured with and without optical bias. Results compare the use of a pin-pin transducer device in free space and in a POF transmission link.
Low sheet resistance (high mobility) with high transmittance in all wavelength is required for front TCO. High haze value is also required for effective light trapping. For this purpose, we have combined F-doped SnO2 (FTO) with high mobility deposited by LPCVD and reactive ion etching (RIE) processed glass substrate. However, two problems have been found. (1) The mobility of FTO on RIE substrate dropped from that on flat glass (75 to 36 cm2/Vs). To avoid this drop, thicker film is needed. (2) To keep high transmittance with thicker film, lower carrier concentration is needed. But the mobility dropped with lower carrier concentration. In order to solve these constrains, we have adopted a stacked structure using thick non-doped layer of 2700 nm and thin F-doped layer of 500 nm. With this novel approach, we have successfully achieved the high mobility (80 cm2/Vs), low carrier concentration (2.2x1019 /cm3) and high haze value (77% at wavelength of 1000 nm) at the same time. This new developed high-haze SnO2 is a new promising TCO for thin-film Si solar cells.
The PECVD intrinsic, n+, and p+ a-Si:H thin film deposition processes have been studied by the optical emission spectroscope to monitor the plasma phase chemistry. Process parameters, such as the plasma power, pressure, and gas flow rate, were correlated to SiH*, Hα*, and Hβ* optical intensities. For all films, the deposition rate increases with the increase of the SiH* intensity. For the doped films, the Hα*/SiH* ratio is a critical factor affecting the resistivity. The existence of PH3 or B2H6 in the feed stream enhances the deposition rate. Changes of the free radicals intensities can be used to explain variation of film characteristics under different deposition conditions.
We have performed an analysis on three hydrogenated nanocrystalline silicon (nc-Si:H) based solar cells. In order to determine the impact that impurities play in shaping the material properties, the XRD and Raman spectra corresponding to all three samples were measured. The XRD results, which displayed a number of crystalline silicon-based peaks, were used in order to approximate the mean crystallite sizes through Scherrer's equation. Through a peak decomposition process, the Raman results were used to estimate the corresponding crystalline volume fraction. It was noted that small crystallite sizes appear to favor larger crystalline volume fractions. This dependence seems to be related to the oxygen impurity concentration level within the intrinsic nc-Si:H layers.
A simple derivation of sub-bandgap exponential tails and fundamental absorption equations ruling the optical absorption of amorphous semiconductors are presented following the frozen phonon model. We use the Kubo-Greenwood formula to describe the average transition rate for the optical absorption process. Asymptotic analysis leads to the commonly observed exponential tail as well as the Tauc expression for the fundamental absorption. We test our theoretical results with experimental absorption coefficients of amorphous Si:H, SiC:H, AlN and SiN. The validity of the Urbach focus concept is evaluated.
The use of a continuous flow non-thermal plasma reactor for the formation of silicon nanoparticles has attracted great interest because of the advantageous properties of the process . Despite the short residence time in the plasma (around 10 milliseconds), a significant fraction of the precursor, silane, is converted and collected in the form of nanopowder. The structure of the produced powder can be tuned between amorphous and crystalline by adjusting the power of the radio-frequency excitation source, with higher power leading to the formation of crystalline particles. Numerical modeling suggests that higher excitation power results in a higher plasma density, which in turn increases the nanoparticle heating rate due to the interaction between ions, free radicals and the nanopowder suspended in the plasma . While the experimental evidence suggests that plasma heating may be responsible for the formation of crystalline powder, an understanding of the mechanism that leads to the crystallization of the powder while in the plasma is lacking. In this work, we present an experimental investigation on the crystallization kinetic of plasma-produced amorphous powder. Silicon nanoparticles are nucleated and grown using a non-thermal plasma reactor similar to the one described in , but operated at low power to give amorphous nanoparticles in a 3-10 nm size range. The particles are then extracted from the reactor using an orifice and aerodynamically dragged into a low pressure reactor placed in a tube furnace capable of reaching temperatures up to 1000°C. Raman and TEM have been used to monitor the crystalline fraction of the material as a function of the residence time and temperature. It is expected that for a residence time in the annealing region of approximately ∼300 milliseconds, a temperature of at least 750 °C is needed to observe the onset of crystallization. A range of crystalline percentages can be observed from 750 °C to 830 °C. A discussion of particle growth and particle interaction, based on experimental evidence, will be presented with its relation to the overall effect on crystallization. Further data analysis allows extrapolating the crystallization rate for the case of this simple, purely thermal system. We conclude that thermal effects alone are not sufficient to explain the formation of crystalline powder in non-thermal plasma reactors.
Silicon nanoparticles-based inks were investigated in respect of their suitability for photovoltaic and thermoelectric applications. Nanoparticles with a diameter ranging between 20 to 150 nm were functionalized in order to avoid oxidation as well as having a good stability in suspension. After inkjet-printing and drying, they were annealed up to 1000 °C under nitrogen atmosphere by both rapid thermal and microwave annealing. The influence of the annealing treatment on the structural, electrical, optical and thermal properties was investigated by Raman, SEM, electrical and optical measurements. SEM and Raman demonstrate evolution of the microstructure at temperature as low as 600 °C. Optical, electrical and thermal properties depend strongly on the annealing temperature and tend to exhibit a modification of physical properties above 800 °C when the smallest nanoparticles begin to melt. The annealing method has been identified to be of primary importance on the layer microstructure and its thermal behavior.
It is well established that controlled high-temperature annealing of hydrogen silsesquioxane leads to the formation of small spherical silicon nanocrystals (∼3 nm). The present study outlines an investigation into the influence of annealing time and temperature. After prolonged annealing, crystal surfaces thermodynamically self-optimize to form a variety of faceted structures (e.g., cubic, truncated trigonal and hexagonal structures).