Identification and Characterization of Performance Limiting Regions in Poly-Si Wafers for PV Cells

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


As demand for silicon photovoltaic (PV) material increases, so does the need for cost-effective feedstock and production methods that will allow enhanced penetration of silicon PV into the total energy market. The focus on cost minimization for production of polycrystalline silicon (poly-Si) PV has led to relaxed feedstock purity requirements, which has also introduced undesirable characteristics into cast poly-Si PV wafers. To produce cells with the highest possible conversion efficiencies, it is crucial to understand how reduced purity requirements and defects that are introduced through the casting process can impair minority carrier properties in poly-Si PV cells. This is only possible by using multiple characterization techniques that give macro-scale information (such as the spatial distribution of performance-limiting regions), as well as micro and nano-scale information about the structural and chemical nature of such performance-limiting regions. This study demonstrates the usefulness of combining multiple techniques to analyze performance-limiting regions in the poly-Si wafers that are used for PV cells. This is done by first identifying performance-limiting regions using macro-scale techniques including photoluminescence (PL) imaging, microwave photoconductive decay (μPCD), and reflectometry), then using smaller-scale techniques such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM), electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD), laser ablation inductively coupled mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), cathodoluminescence (CL), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to understand the nature of such regions. This analysis shows that structural defects as well as metallic impurities are present in performance-limiting regions, which together act to decrease conversion efficiencies in poly-Si PV cells.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages4
StatePublished - 2011
Event37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2011 - Seattle, WA, United States
Duration: 19 Jun 201124 Jun 2011


Conference37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySeattle, WA

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5200-50645 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5200-55713


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