Three-Dimensional Minority-Carrier Collection Channels at Shunt Locations in Silicon Solar Cells

Harvey Guthrey, Steve Johnston, Dirk N. Weiss, Sachit Grover, Kim Jones, Alain Blosse, Mowafak Al-Jassim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus Citations


In this contribution, we demonstrate the value of using a multiscale multi-technique characterization approach to study the performance-limiting defects in multi-crystalline silicon (mc-Si) photovoltaic devices. The combination of dark lock-in thermography (DLIT) imaging, electron beam induced current imaging, and both transmission and scanning transmission electron microscopy (TEM/STEM) on the same location revealed the nanoscale origin of the optoelectronic properties of shunts visible at the device scale. Our site-specific correlative approach identified the shunt behavior to be a result of three-dimensional inversion channels around structural defects decorated with oxide precipitates. These inversion channels facilitate enhanced minority-carrier transport that results in the increased heating observed through DLIT imaging. The definitive connection between the nanoscale structure and chemistry of the type of shunt investigated here allows photovoltaic device manufacturers to immediately address the oxygen content of their mc-Si absorber material when such features are present, instead of engaging in costly characterization.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)163-168
Number of pages6
JournalSolar Energy
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-63709


  • Characterization
  • Multicrystalline silicon
  • Precipitates
  • Shunts


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