Effect of Front-Side Silver Metallization on Underlying n+-p Junction in Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


We report on the effect of front-side Ag metallization on the underlying n+-p junction of multicrystalline Si solar cells. The junction quality beneath the contacts was investigated by characterizing the uniformities of the electrostatic potential and doping concentration across the junction, using scanning Kelvin probe force microscopy and scanning capacitance microscopy. We investigated cellswith a commercial Ag paste (DuPont PV159) and fired at furnace setting temperatures of 800 degrees, 840 degrees, and 930 degrees C, which results in actual cell temperatures100 degrees C lower than the setting temperature and the three cells being under-, optimal-, and over-fired. We found that the uniformity of the junction beneath the Ag contact was significantly degraded by the over-firing,whereas the junction retained good uniformity with the optimal- and under-fire temperatures. Further, Ag crystallites with widely distributed sizes from <100 nm to several ..mu..m were found at the Ag/Si interface of the over-fired cell. Large crystallites were imaged as protrusions into Si deeper than the junction depth. However, the junction was not broken down; instead, it was reformed on theentire front of the crystallite/Si interface. We propose a mechanism of the junction-quality degradation, based on emitter Si melting at the temperature around the Ag-Si eutectic point during firing, and subsequent recrystallization with incorporation of impurities in the Ag paste and with formation of crystallographic defects during quenching.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2012
Event2012 IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference - Austin, Texas
Duration: 3 Jun 20128 Jun 2012


Conference2012 IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference
CityAustin, Texas

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5200-54112


  • crystalline silicon (x-Si) (c-Si)
  • P-N junctions
  • scanning capacitance microscopy
  • scanning Kelvin probe microscope (SKPM)
  • silver metallization
  • solar cells


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