Potential cost reduction of buried-contact solar cells through the use of titanium dioxide thin films

B. S. Richards, S. F. Rowlands, A. Ueranatasun, J. E. Cotter, C. B. Honsberg

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Abstract

This paper explores the potential of applying titanium dioxide (TiO2) thin films to the buried-contact (BC) solar cell. The aim is to develop a lower-cost BC technology that can be applied to multicrystalline silicon (mc-Si) wafers, the predominant substrate of the photovoltaics (PV) industry. The original BC solar cell used a thick, thermally grown, silicon dioxide (SiO2) layer as the front surface dielectric coating. Upon commercialisation of the BC technology, BP Solar replaced this layer with silicon nitride (Si3N4), which exhibits improved optical properties. It is anticipated that production costs can be further reduced by using a low temperature deposited front surface dielectric coating, such as TiO2, thereby reducing the number of lengthy high temperature processing steps, and developing a process such that it can be applied to mc-Si wafers. TiO2 is chosen because of its optimal optical properties for glass-encapsulated silicon solar cells and familiarity of PV manufacturers with this material. The results presented resolve the issue of surface passivation with TiO2 and demonstrate that TiO2/ SiO2 stacks, achieved during a brief high-temperature oxidation process after TiO2 thin film deposition, are compatible with high-efficiency solar cells. However, TiO2 cannot perform all the necessary functions of the thick SiO2 or Si3N 4 layer, due to its inability to act as a phosphorus diffusion barrier. In light of these results, three alternate BC solar cell fabrication sequences are presented, and an initial conversion efficiency of 11.5% has been achieved from the first batch of solar cells in a non-optimised processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-276
Number of pages8
JournalSolar Energy
Volume76
Issue number1-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Materials Science(all)

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