Effect of Crystallographic Orientation and Nanoscale Surface Morphology on Poly-Si/SiOx Contacts for Silicon Solar Cells

Abhijit S. Kale, William Nemeth, Harvey Guthrey, Sanjini U. Nanayakkara, Vincenzo Lasalvia, San Theingi, Dawn Findley, Matthew Page, Mowafak Al-Jassim, David L. Young, Paul Stradins, Sumit Agarwal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus Citations


High-efficiency crystalline silicon (Si) solar cells require textured surfaces for efficient light trapping. However, passivation of a textured surface to reduce carrier recombination is difficult. Here, we relate the electrical properties of cells fabricated on a KOH-etched, random pyramidal-textured Si surface to the nanostructure of the passivated contact and the textured surface morphology. The effects of both microscopic pyramidal morphology and nanoscale surface roughness on passivated contacts consisting of polycrystalline Si (poly-Si) deposited on top of an ultrathin, 1.5-2.2 nm, SiOx layer are investigated. Using atomic force microscopy, we show a pyramid face, which is predominantly a Si(111) plane to be significantly rougher than a polished Si(111) surface. This roughness results in a nonuniform SiOx layer as determined by transmission electron microscopy of a poly-Si/SiOx contact. Our device measurements also show an overall more resistive and hence a thicker SiOx layer over the pyramidal surface as compared to a polished Si(111) surface, which we relate to increased surface roughness. Using electron-beam-induced current measurements of poly-Si/SiOx contacts, we further show that the SiOx layer near the pyramid valleys is preferentially more conducting and hence likely thinner than over pyramid tips, edges, and faces. Hence, both the microscopic pyramidal morphology and nanoscale roughness lead to a nonuniform SiOx layer, thus leading to poor poly-Si/SiOx contact passivation. Finally, we report >21% efficient and ≥80% fill-factor front/back poly-Si/SiOx solar cells on both single-side and double-side textured wafers without the use of transparent conductive oxide layers, and show that the poorer contact passivation on a textured surface is limited to boron-doped poly-Si/SiOx contacts.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)42021-42031
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number45
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-75083


  • atomic force microscopy
  • electron-beam-induced current
  • passivated contact
  • silicon oxide
  • silicon solar cell
  • surface orientation
  • tunneling


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of Crystallographic Orientation and Nanoscale Surface Morphology on Poly-Si/SiOx Contacts for Silicon Solar Cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this