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Transparent conductive oxides for thin-film silicon solar cells

By J. Löffler


This thesis describes research on thin-film silicon solar cells with focus on the transparent conductive oxide (TCO) for such devices. In addition to the formation of a transparent and electrically conductive front electrode for the solar cell allowing photocurrent collection with low ohmic losses, the front TCO plays an important role for the light enhancement of thin-film silicon pin type solar cells. If the TCO is rough, light scattering at rough interfaces in the solar cell in combination with a highly reflective back contact leads to an increase in optical path length of the light. Multiple (total) internal reflectance leads to virtual 'trapping' of the light in the solar cell structure, allowing a further decrease in absorber thickness and thus thin-film silicon solar cell devices with higher and more stable efficiency. Here, the optical mechanisms involved in the light trapping in thin-film silicon solar cells have been studied, and two types of front TCO materials have been investigated with respect to their suitability as front TCO in thin-film silicon pin type solar cells.\ud \ud Undoped and aluminum doped zinc oxide layers have been fabricated for the first time by the expanding thermal plasma chemical vapour deposition (ETP CVD) technique at substrate temperatures between 150 º C and 350 º C, and successfully implemented as a front electrode material for amorphous silicon pin superstrate type solar cells. Solar cells with efficiencies comparable to cells on Asahi U-type reference TCO have been reproducibly obtained. A higher haze is needed for the ZnO samples studied here than for Asahi U-type TCO in order to achieve comparable long wavelength response of the solar cells. This is attributed to the different angular distribution of the scattered light, showing higher scattering intensities at large angles for the Asahi U-type TCO. A barrier at the TCO/p interface and minor collection problems may explain the slightly lower fill factors obtained for the cells on ETP ZnO. The solar cells deposited on the first doped ZnO:Al layers suffered from collection problems reducing the fill factor, and from shunting. This is attributed to the steep trenches, sharp features and vertical steps that have been identified at the TCO surface. ZnO:Al layers with granular structure, deposited at higher argon flow through the cascaded arc plasma source, allowed for fill factors of the solar cells up to 0.70, comparable to cells on undoped ZnO. The best solar cell on doped ZnO:Al deposited by ETP CVD achieved an efficiency of 9.3 % which is comparable to the 9.4 % obtained on Asahi U-type SnO2:F.\ud \ud Fluorinated tin oxide has been deposited by Atmospheric Chemical Vapor Deposition (APCVD) on glass from three different tin precursors, tetramethyltin, monobutyltin trichloride, and tin tetrachloride (TTC). TTC is the Sn precursor which resulted in the TCO with the best performance of a-Si:H pin solar cells. In accordance with the conclusions from our experiments with solar cells on undoped and aluminum doped zinc oxide, a high surface roughness and haze do not necessarily lead to a lower diode quality, and vice versa

Topics: Natuur- en Sterrenkunde, transparent conductive oxide, tin oxide, zinc oxide, amorphous silicon, microcrystalline silicon, solar cell, CVD
Publisher: Utrecht University
Year: 2005
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