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We recently developed a scattering model based on the scalar scattering theory. In this contribution we present how we used the scattering model to investigate interface textures with optimized scattering properties. We used the simulated annealing algorithm to find optimized surface textures and applied the ASA device simulator to evaluate the influence of these optimized textures on the performance of thin film silicon solar cells. We found that the lateral feature size of the textures is crucial for efficient scattering of the incident light.
The causes for the porosity of the microcrystalline material deposited by the expanding thermal plasma (ETP) chemical vapor deposition (CVD) technique have been investigated through IR-absorption measurements. The role of impinging ions on the structure of the material is discussed in relation to the hydrogen bounding configuration (microcrystalline factor). The ion energy is controlled through external RF biasing. Correlation between biasing and reduction of porosity is presented. The influence of high deposition pressure is as well studied, related with changes in a-Si structure.
We have used a cascaded-arc expanding thermal plasma (ETP) to produce thin films of amorphous silicon at high growth rates (> 3 nm/s). Here, we present a study of the effect on material properties of hydrogen injection in the nozzle, i.e., at the exit of the arc where the plasma expands into the reactor chamber. The advantage of using extra H2 in the nozzle is that the plasma chemistry and pressure in the arc remain unchanged, whilst higher growth rates and a material with low defect densities can be obtained.
We observe that with an increase of substrate temperature the growth rate decreases due to densification of the material. This densification is accompanied by a reduction of the hydrogen content and of the microstructure parameter. Further we observe that hydrogen content decreases with higher growth rate. A strong relation is found between the light conductivity and the microstructure parameter indicating a large void fraction in samples grown at low temperature.
We have been able to grow a-Si:H material, with H2 in the nozzle, at 350°C and 3 nm/s with a light conductivity of 1.2 × 10−5 Ω1cm−1, which can be suitable for solar-cell application.
The effects of 3-MeV electron irradiation on a-Si:H have been studied using Time-Resolved Microwave Conductivity (TRMC). A Van der Graaff electron accelerator is used to generate the probe-beam pulses for the TRMC experiment as well as for the in-situ irradiation of the samples for the degradation of the material. Using several probe-beam pulse doses, TRMC transients were obtained on samples that have been subjected to various radiation fluences. These transients were later analyzed using a simple model based on the Shockley-Read-Hall capture and emission processes. Using these simulations we deduce a relationship between the radiation fluence and the defect density in the material.
Expanding thermal plasma CVD (ETP CVD) has been used to deposit thin microcrystalline silicon films. In this study we varied the position at which the silane is injected in the expanding hydrogen plasma: relatively far from the substrate and close to the plasma source, giving a long interaction time of the plasma with the silane, and close to the substrate, resulting in a short interaction time. The material structure is studied extensively. The crystalline fractions as obtained from Raman spectroscopy as well as from X-ray diffraction (XRD) vary from 0 to 67%. The average particle sizes vary from 6 to 17 nm as estimated from the (111) XRD peak using the Scherrer formula. Small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and flotation density measurements indicate void volume fractions of about 4 to 6%. When the samples are tilted the SAXS signal is lower than for the untilted case, indicating elongated objects parallel to the growth direction in the films. We show that the material properties are influenced by the position of silane injection in the reactor, indicating a change in the plasma chemistry.
The charge deep-level transient spectroscopy (Q-DLTS) experiments on undoped hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) demonstrate that during light soaking the states in the upper part of the gap disappear, while additional states around and below midgap are created. Since no direct correlation is observed in light-induced changes of the three groups of states that we identify from the Q-DLTS signal, we believe that we deal with three different types of defects. Positively charged states above midgap are related to a complex formed by a hydrogen molecule and a dangling bond. Negatively charged states below midgap are attributed to floating bonds. Various trends in the evolution of dark conductivity due to light soaking indicate that the kinetics of light-induced changes of the three gap-state components depend on their initial energy distributions and on the spectrum and intensity of light during exposure.
With an Expanding Thermal Plasma Chemical Vapor Deposition system (ETP-CVD), solar grade amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) can be deposited at high deposition rate (> 2 nm/s). We think that during the first stage of deposition, a material is grown with a higher defect density than the rest of the bulk creating a defect-rich layer (DRL). Therefore we analyzed, by the means of simulations, the influence of the position of the DRL on the performance of a p-i-n a-Si:H solar cell when moved from the p-i towards the i-n interface and as a function of its thickness. We investigate the effect of a buffer layer in between the p- and the i-layer on the external parameters of the solar cell. The presence of a buffer layer increases the electric field near the p-i interface, which leads to a higher collection of free charge carriers at the interface, although the electric field is then diminished deeper in the bulk. It appears that 10 nm thick buffer layer is sufficient to improve the performance. In case no buffer layer is applied, recombination losses at the p-i interface diminish the performance of the solar cell. We also observe that an increase of the DRL thickness results in a reduction of the solar-cell performance, which is more pronounced when the DRL is located in the region close to the p-i interface rather than close to the i-n interface.
A cascaded arc expanding thermal plasma is used to deposit intrinsic hydrogenated amorphous silicon at growth rates between 0.2 and 3 nm/s. Incorporation into a single junction p-i-n solar cell resulted in an initial efficiency of 6.7%, whereas all the optical and initial electrical properties of the individual layers are comparable with RF-PECVD deposited films. In this cell the intrinsic layer was deposited at 0.85 nm/s and at a deposition temperature of 250°C, which is the temperature limit for growing the p-i-n sequence. The cell efficiency is limited by the fill factor and using a buffer layer at the p-i interface deposited with RF-PECVD at low growth rate can increase this. The increase in fill factor is a result of a lower initial defect density near the p-i interface then obtained with the expanding thermal plasma, resulting in better charge carrier collection. To use larger growth rates, while maintaining the material properties, higher deposition temperatures are required. Higher deposition temperatures result in a smaller optical bandgap for the intrinsic layer and deterioration of the p-type layer, resulting in a lower opencircuit voltage. First results on applying a buffer layer will also be presented.
A cascaded arc expanding thermal plasma is used to deposit intrinsic hydrogenated amorphous silicon at growth rates larger than 2 Å/s. Implementation into a single junction p-i-n solar cell resulted in initial efficiencies of ∼7%, although all the optical and initial electrical properties of the individual layers are comparable with RF-PECVD deposited films. The somewhat lower efficiency is due to a smaller fill factor. Spectral response measurements, illuminated J,V- measurements, and simulations indicate that a higher local defect density in the region near the p-i interface might be responsible for the smaller fill factor in comparison with conventional low- rate RF-PECVD. The higher defect density is most likely caused by the initial growth in the first 10 to 50 nm. Therefore, controlled initial growth of the intrinsic layer is suggested for good solar cell performance.
This paper compares a-Si:H p-i-n diodes having a spatially uniform distribution of defect states with diodes in which the defect distribution is non-uniform, i.e. equilibrated according to the Defect-Pool model. Diodes with a uniform defect distribution exhibit a clear dependence of the current-voltage characteristics on the width of the intrinsic region, whereas in equilibrated diodes, this dependence is absent. This difference is explained by comparing the space-charge distribution and the recombination profile of the intrinsic region in both types of diodes.
A calibration procedure for determining the model input parameters of standard a-Si:H layers, which comprise a single junction a-Si:H solar cell, is presented. The calibration procedure consists of: i) deposition of the separate layers, ii) measurement of the material properties, iii) fitting the model parameters to match the measured properties, iv) simulation of test devices and comparison with experimental results. The inverse modeling procedure was used to extract values of the most influential model parameters by fitting the simulated material properties to the measured ones. In case of doped layers the extracted values of the characteristic energies of exponentially decaying tail states are much higher than the values reported in literature. Using the extracted values of model parameters a good agreement between the measured and calculated characteristics of a reference solar cell was reached. The presented procedure could not solve directly an important issue concerning a value of the mobility gap in a-Si:H alloys.
Electrophotographic dark decay measurements have been used to determine the surface density of states (SDOS) of a-Si:C:H. Injection of trapped charge from these deep states into the conduction band governs the dark discharge of a photoconductor, provided bulk generation and bulk space charge are negligible. It is found that the SDOS profiles peak around 0.60 eV below the conduction band for materials with different carbon concentration. This observation implies that the energy position of these states is fixed with respect to the conduction band edge, even though the optical band gap of these materials increases with increasing carbon concentration. The nature of these states may be ascribed to D− states, whose density is strongly enhanced by filling D° states when the material is charged negatively. Furthermore, we observed that the SDOS around 0.60 eV below the conduction band edge is approximately the same for materials with up to 8 at.% carbon. From temperature dependent measurements a value of 2·108 s−1 was obtained for the attempt-to-escape frequency.
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