Influence of Tabula Rasa on Process- and Light-Induced Degradation of Solar Cells Fabricated From Czochralski Silicon

Abigail Meyer, Vincenzo LaSalvia, William Nemeth, Wanxing Xu, Matthew Page, David Young, Sumit Agarwal, Paul Stradins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus Citations


Monocrystalline Si solar cells are fabricated from Czochralski (Cz) Si, which contains 1017-1018 cm-3 oxygen atoms. Cz Si undergoes degradation during high-temperature thermal processing steps, such as dopant diffusion to form the p-n junction. This degradation in the bulk minority carrier lifetime can be related to the formation of oxygen precipitates. We found that a high-temperature annealing process known as tabula rasa (TR) not only mitigates process-induced degradation via oxygen precipitate nuclei dissolution, but also modifies subsequent light-induced degradation. We report on the bulk carrier lifetime of n- and p-type Cz Si after TR, which homogenizes the interstitial oxygen in the bulk Si to its monoatomic form in either an N2 or O2 environment. A control sample, which was not subjected to a TR processing step, experienced severe process-induced degradation during a boron emitter thermal budget as oxygen precipitates were formed in the Si bulk. These precipitates could be imaged using photoluminescence. Additionally, samples that underwent a TR processing step prior to the boron emitter thermal budget show efficient gettering of metallic impurities compared to the control sample, which showed a decline in the implied open-circuit voltage after the gettering step. Furthermore, modification of the interstitial oxygen bonding by TR had a strong effect on the light-induced degradation kinetics. Instead of a typically observed monotonic decrease, minority carrier lifetime increases first, followed by a nonmonotonic decrease over a ∼20 h period. We conclude that by modifying the interstitial oxygen bonding via TR pretreatment, p-type Cz Si wafers become substantially resistant to harsh solar cell processes and strongly modified light-induced degradation, which would open alternative ways to mitigate this degradation mechanism.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number9195837
Pages (from-to)1557-1565
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Journal of Photovoltaics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2011-2012 IEEE.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-77729


  • Degradation
  • oxygen precipitation
  • silicon solar cell
  • tabula rasa


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