Recently the authors have demonstrated that compensated or “midgap” intrinsic hydrogenated microcrystalline silicon (μc-Si:H), as deposited by the Very High Frequency Glow Discharge (VHF-GD) technique, can be used as active layer in p-i-n solar cells. Compared to amorphous silicon (a-Si:H), μc-Si:H was found to have a significantly lower energy bandgap of around 1 eV. The combination of both materials (two absorbers with different gap energies) leads to a “real” tandem cell structure, which was called the “micromorph” cell. Micromorph cells can make better use of the sun's spectrum in contrast to conventional double-stacked a-Si:H / a-Si:H tandems.
The present study will show that the compensation technique (involving boron “microdoping”) used sofar for obtaining midgap μc-Si:H can be replaced by the application of a gas purifier. The use of this gas purifier has a beneficial influence on the transport properties of undoped intrinsic μc-Si:H. By this procedure, increased cell efficiencies in both, single microcrystalline silicon p-i-n as well as micromorph cells could be obtained. In the first case 7.7 % stable, and in the second case 13.1% initial efficiency could be achieved under AM1.5 conditions. Preliminary light-soaking experiments performed on the tandem cells indicate that microcrystalline silicon could contribute to an enhancement of the stable efficiency performance. Micromorph cell manufacturing is fully compatible to a-Si:H technology; however, its deposition rate is still too low. With further increase of the rate, a similar cost reduction potential like in a-Si:H technology can be extrapolated.