Loughborough University
Thesis-2013-Kaminski.pdf (5.29 MB)

Remote plasma sputtering for silicon solar cells

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posted on 2013-09-02, 10:45 authored by Piotr M. Kaminski
The global energy market is continuously changing due to changes in demand and fuel availability. Amongst the technologies considered as capable of fulfilling these future energy requirements, Photovoltaics (PV) are one of the most promising. Currently the majority of the PV market is fulfilled by crystalline Silicon (c-Si) solar cell technology, the so called 1st generation PV. Although c-Si technology is well established there is still a lot to be done to fully exploit its potential. The cost of the devices, and their efficiencies, must be improved to allow PV to become the energy source of the future. The surface of the c-Si device is one of the most important parts of the solar cell as the surface defines the electrical and the optical properties of the device. The surface is responsible for light reflection and charge carrier recombination. The standard surface finish is a thin film layer of silicon nitride deposited by Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapour Deposition (PECVD). In this thesis an alternative technique of coating preparation is presented. The HiTUS sputtering tool, utilising a remote plasma source, was used to deposit the surface coating. The remote plasma source is unique for solar cells application. Sputtering is a versatile process allowing growth of different films by simply changing the target and/or the deposition atmosphere. Apart from silicon nitride, alternative materials to it were also investigated including: aluminium nitride (this was the first use of the material in solar cells) silicon carbide, and silicon carbonitride. All the materials were successfully used to prepare solar cells apart from the silicon carbide, which was not used due to too high a refractive index. Screen printed solar cells with a silicon nitride coating deposited in HiTUS were prepared with an efficiency of 15.14%. The coating was deposited without the use of silane, a hazardous precursor used in the PECVD process, and without substrate heating. The elimination of both offers potential processing advantages. By applying substrate heating it was found possible to improve the surface passivation and thus improve the spectral response of the solar cell for short wavelengths. These results show that HiTUS can deposit good quality ARC for silicon solar cells. It offers optical improvement of the ARC s properties, compared to an industrial standard, by using the DL-ARC high/low refractive index coating. This coating, unlike the silicon nitride silica stack, is applicable to encapsulated cells. The surface passivation levels obtained allowed a good blue current response.



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


© Piotr M Kaminski

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en