Understanding the Charge Transport Mechanisms through Ultrathin SiOx Layers in Passivated Contacts for High-Efficiency Silicon Solar Cells: Article No. 083902

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Abstract

We report on the microscopic structure of the SiOx layer and the transport mechanism in polycrystalline Si (poly-Si) passivated contacts, which enable high-efficiency crystalline Si (c-Si) solar cells. Using electron beam induced current (EBIC) measurements, we accurately map nanoscale conduction-enabling pinholes in 2.2 nm thick SiOx layers in a poly-Si/SiOx/c-Si stack. These conduction enabling pinholes appear as bright spots in EBIC maps due to carrier transport and collection limitations introduced by the insulating 2.2 nm SiOx layer. Performing high-resolution transmission electron microscopy at a bright spot identified with EBIC reveals that conduction pinholes in SiOx can be regions of thin tunneling SiOx rather than a geometric pinhole. Additionally, selectively etching the underlying poly-Si layer in contacts with 1.5 and 2.2 nm thick SiOx layers using tetramethylammonium hydroxide results in pinhole-like etch features in both contacts. However, EBIC measurements for a contact with a thinner, 1.5 nm SiOx layer do not reveal pinholes, which is consistent with uniform tunneling transport through the 1.5 nm SiOx layer. Finally, we theoretically show that reducing the metal to the c-Si contact size from microns, like in the p-type passivated emitter rear contact, to tens of nanometers, like in poly-Si contacts, allows lowering of the unpassivated contact area by several orders of magnitude, thus resulting in excellent passivation, as has been demonstrated for these contacts.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages5
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Volume114
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-72682

Keywords

  • electron beam induced current
  • oxide pinhole
  • passivated contact
  • silicon oxide
  • silicon solar cell
  • tunneling

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