Efficient thin-film polycrystalline-silicon (pc-Si) solar cells on inexpensive substrates could substantially lower the price of photovoltaic electricity. We recently showed that good solar cells can be made from pc-Si obtained by epitaxial thickening using thermal CVD of a seed layer made by aluminium-induced crystallization (AIC) of amorphous silicon. We already reported cells in substrate configuration with energy conversion efficiencies up to 8.0% for layers on ceramic alumina substrates. However, much higher efficiencies (η > 10%) are needed for this type of pc-Si solar cells to become cost-effective. To achieve these higher efficiencies, cells will probably have to be made in a superstrate configuration on transparent substrates and advanced light trapping will need to be applied. In this paper we report on our recent progress with pc-Si solar cells made on transparent glass-ceramic substrates.
So far, our best pc-Si solar cells in substrate configuration on glass-ceramics showed an efficiency of 6.4%. By using plasma texturing to lower the front side reflection, we increased the current density of our cells by roughly 1 mA cm-2. The Jsc is much lower for cells on glass-ceramic than for cells on alumina. This is the result of the better diffuse back reflectance of alumina compared to glass. The Voc and fill factor are comparable for cells on both substrates.
To make pc-Si solar cells on glass in superstrate configuration, we will use a-Si/c-Si rear junction emitters. As a first test of the feasibility of this approach, we measured the illuminated IV parameters of pc-Si cells made for the substrate configuration in superstrate configuration. In superstrate configuration, the current density of the cells is much lower than in substrate configuration due to the non-optimized cell design for superstrate illumination. The Voc is slightly smaller in superstrate configuration due to the lower current density.
These results indicate that the glass-ceramic substrates are fully compatible to our poly-Si solar cell process. Furthermore, rear-junction poly-Si cells in superstrate configuration should lead to good cell results once the absorber layer thickness is optimized to the diffusion length of the material and light trapping features adapted to the superstrate configuration are applied.