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Proceedings Paper

Radial junction crystalline silicon solar cells with an efficiency of over 20% using vertically aligned microwires (Conference Presentation)
Author(s): Kwanyong Seo; Inchan Hwang

Paper Abstract

Light-absorption enhancement is one of the key research areas related to the development of high-efficiency crystalline silicon (c-Si) solar cells. Surface structuring which can reduce not only the surface reflection but also increase the optical path length is an efficient way to increase light absorption in a broadband wavelength range. Among the surface structures, vertically aligned silicon microwires (MWs) have been extensively investigated as a means for developing highly efficient c-Si solar cells because of the outstanding broadband antireflection and radial junction effect which enables efficient charge collection. The incident light is absorbed along the long MW axis, while photo-induced carriers can be collected along the short radial direction. To realize the highly efficient radial junction c-Si solar cells, we have developed novel technologies such as fabrication process of MWs, high conductive and transmittance top electrode, shape-controlled MWs, and high purity doping process. The high-aspect-ratio MWs (> 10:1) were successfully fabricated through both optimized metal-assisted chemical etching (MACE) and deep reactive ion etching (DRIE) processes. To achieve the high efficiency of MW radial junction solar cells, we developed the high conductive and transparent top electrode to replace the conventional bus-finger electrode which has a significant shading loss. We devised a novel micro-grid top electrode which shows superior transmittance (over 97%) and low sheet resistance (less than 30 Ω/□). By applying the micro-grid electrode on the top surface, the MWs solar cells showed outstanding fill factor (81.2%) and improved efficiency (16.5%). Although our MWs radial junction solar cell showed improved efficiency with the micro-grid electrode, it needs to increase the light absorption capability to maximize the efficiency. As an efficient way to decrease the flat-top-surface reflection of the MWs and increase the light absorption property of the radial junction solar cells, a tapered-MW structure was employed using a simple wet-etching process. When a c-Si wafer with MWs is dipped in a silicon etchant (RSE-100, transene), the top part of the MWs that has a shorter diffusion path compared to the bottom part is etched more quickly because of the different chemical diffusion path lengths leading to the formation of tapered MWs. Since the diameter of the tapered MWs gradually increased from the top to the bottom, the tapered MWs can act as a buffer layer to compensate for the mismatch between the refractive indexes of air (1) and the silicon substrate (4). Thus, the surface reflection of the tapered MWs was observed to be less than 2% at a wavelength of 550 nm. The tapered MW based radial junction solar cells exhibit improved efficiency up to 18.9% thanks to the enhanced light absorption property. As the last step for optimizing the device structure of the MWs solar cells, we developed high purity doping process using acid dopant sources that showed improved minority carrier lifetime (from 79.29 µs to 272.24 µs). Accordingly, we achieved high efficiency (20.2%) MWs radial junction solar cell by applying all of the developed our technologies such as the micro-grid electrode, tapered MWs, and high purity doping process. At present, we are aiming at developing an ideal passivation layer to achieve the more than 25% efficiency of the radial junction solar cells. Therefore, we believe the MW structures with the suggested technologies become a foundational technology for the highly efficient radial junction solar cells.

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 September 2018
Proc. SPIE 10759, New Concepts in Solar and Thermal Radiation Conversion and Reliability, 1075914 (18 September 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2326860
Show Author Affiliations
Kwanyong Seo, UNIST (Korea, Republic of)
Inchan Hwang, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (Korea, Republic of)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10759:
New Concepts in Solar and Thermal Radiation Conversion and Reliability
Jeremy N. Munday; Peter Bermel; Michael D. Kempe, Editor(s)

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