Defect Characterization of Monocrystalline Silicon Solar Cells with Polysilicon Passivated Contact Using Electrically-Detected Magnetic Resonance (EDMR) Spectroscopy

Chirag Mule, David Mulder, Kejun Chen, William Nemeth, P. Taylor, Dirk Steyn, Markus Kaupa, San Theingi, David Young, Sumit Agarwal, Pauls Stradins

Research output: NRELPoster


As the c-Si based solar cell efficiencies are approaching over 26%, it is becoming critical to characterize the low concentrations of the defects – as low as 10^10-10^11 cm-3 (for e.g., iron contamination in high-lifetime Ga-doped wafers3 and n-type wafers), and further reduce them. Also, atomistic level understanding of the mechanisms of the low concentration process-induced-defects and reliability limiting defects (such as light and elevated temperature induced degradation, surface passivation degradation) is needed to design the mitigation strategies. The conventional characterization techniques are limited due to their detection limitations. Some of the techniques based on lifetime spectroscopies can still be used for low concentration characterization however, they are based on estimations and theoretical models and hence, indirect and cannot fully reveal information about the microscopic mechanism of the defects. Thus, we present the application of an ultrasensitive magnetic resonance-based technique for the direct spectroscopic detection of the defects in Si PV - electrically detected magnetic resonance (EDMR). In this work, we aim to focus on establishing a process flow for fabrication of minicells with (miniature replica of the larger-area cells) and setting up the routine for EDMR measurements on them with the EDMR instrumentation capability at NREL. For the EDMR measurements, sample size is limited by the dimensions of sample holder tube (width less than 3.2 mm, active area - 20 mm). Thus, we have designed c-Si based minicells with polysilicon (poly-Si) passivated contacts same as the larger-area cells that we fabricate in our group at NREL. We also modified our minicell process flow for fabricating the textured minicells for preserving the texture during processing and taking care of the laser-ablation edge damage which can significantly affect the performance of such small devices. We have achieved comparable performance on these newly fabricated minicells as that of our 4 cm2 devices with same structure (comparable VOC, JSC, FF). We also conducted EDMR measurements on the minicells and observed a distinct EDMR signal at g-value ~2.005 at temperatures 30K and above, as shown in Fig. 2. We associate this signal to the presence of silicon dangling bonds based on the g-value. We also observed an EDMR signal at g-value ~1.998 at temperature ~5K. The origin of this signal is still being investigated. Thus, we show the proof of concept of minicells and EDMR measurements with which we now aim to study some of the unknown defects in silicon solar cell devices.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NamePresented at the 30th Annual NREL Silicon Workshop, 30 July - 2 August 2023, Breckenridge, Colorado

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5900-87262


  • EDMR
  • electrically-detected magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • minicell
  • monocrystalline
  • photovoltaic
  • polysilicon passivated contact
  • PV
  • silicon solar cell


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