A Comprehensive Methodology to Evaluate Losses and Process Variations in Silicon Solar Cell Manufacturing

Dana Kern, Steven Johnston, Mohammad Hossain, Geoffrey Gregory, Eric Schneller, Andrew Gabor, Adrienne Blum, Zhihao Yang, Kristopher Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus Citations


Novel, high-throughput metrology methods are used in this paper for detailed performance loss analysis of approximately 400 industrial crystalline silicon solar cells, all coming from the same production line. The characterization sequence combines traditional global cell measurements (e.g., current-voltage, Suns-VOC) with camera-based cell imaging of voltage distribution and power dissipation from photoluminescence and lock-in thermography, respectively. Spatial variations in current collection are visualized using a high-speed external quantum efficiency and reflectance measurement technique. A nondestructive transfer length method (TLM) measurement technique is also implemented, featuring circular TLM structures hidden within the busbars of the cells. The variance of individual loss parameters and their impact on cell performance are quantified for this large group of cells. Based on correlations performed across parameters, recombination losses in the bulk and rear surface of the cell are shown to be the primary limiting factor for the cell efficiency. The nature of these distributions and correlations provide important insights about loss mechanisms in industrial solar cells, helping to prioritize efforts for optimizing the performance of the production line. Additionally, many of the parameters extracted from these techniques can be tied back to incoming material quality issues (e.g., poor bulk carrier lifetime, nonuniform wafer doping) and to individual unit processes (e.g., texturing, phosphorus diffusion, silicon nitride deposition, metallization), allowing the data to be used directly for process control in manufacturing. All of the datasets are made available for download.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number8788445
Pages (from-to)1350-1359
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-74934


  • Absorption
  • contact resistance
  • current measurement
  • loss measurement
  • optical losses
  • photoluminescence
  • semiconductor device manufacture
  • semiconductor device testing
  • semiconductor materials
  • silicon
  • silicon photonics
  • solar energy


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