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Silicon for photovoltaic solar cells


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Lars Arnberg

Department of Materials Science and Engineering


NTNU, Norway
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
KTH, Sweden
Dipartimento di Tecnica e Gestione dei Sistemi Industriale
Università Padova

Contents

Lecture 1 Introduction to solar cells


• Solar energy, working principles of PV cells
Lecture 2. Production and purification of silicon
• Raw materials, carbothermic reduction, purification to solar grade
Lecture 3. Crystallization and wafer production
• Crystallization to mono- and multicrystals, wafer sawing
Lecture 4. Impurities and structure defects
• Sources and distribution of impurities, grain boundaries dislocations

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Introduction to PV solar cells

• Solar cells in energy production


• Solar radiation
• Photovoltaic effect
• Bandgap
• p/n junction
• Solar cell production
• Efficiency

Montaldo di Castro
84 MW

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Production of silicon for PV
400.000 tons 2017

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The sun

6000 K surface temperature

Insolation - sunshine

Large global and


local variations

Solar energy, peak: ∿1 kW/m2


Europe average: ∿150 W/m2

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Silicon

• 2:nd most abundant element in Earth´s crust


• Density 2.33 g/cm3
• Melting point: 1414 C III IV V VI VII

• Chemically inert
• Semiconductor
• Group IV element
• 4 valence electrons
• Cubic structure
• Each atom bonds to
4 others
• 2 electrons/bond
• No free electrons

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The Photovoltaic effect


• Energy from photon excites electron
• Creation of free electron (-) and hole (+) – excess carriers
• Electron leaves valence band for conduction band

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Bandgap
Energy required to excite electron from the valence
band to conduction band. For silicon: 1.1 eV, λ=1.13 μm

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Excess carrier lifetime, τ


– Carriers (electron and holes)will eventually recombine
– Need to survive until collected
– Time until recombination of electrons and holes, τ
– = + +

Radiative recombination Non-radiative recombination

Auger recombination Shockley–Read–Hall (SRH)

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p/n junction
• Doping of Si with group III element (boron)
– substitutes Si atoms
– 3 valence electrons
– positive charge, p-doping
• Doping of Si with group IV element (phosphorous)
– 5 valence electrons
– negative charge, n-doping
• p and n doping on either side of cell

n
p

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p/n junction

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The solar cell

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Czochralski single crystal production process

Wafer-
CZ Shaping/ sawing/
Crystal growth grinding washing

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Solar cell processing


- Saw damage removal

• The damaged and contaminated surface layer must


be removed
• Alkaline etches
– Rinsed in DI water
– Typically removes 5 – 10 μm

Erik Marstein,(IFE), presentation “Silicon solar cell production”, 2015

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Solar cell processing


- Texturing

• Reduce reflectance
• Usually alkaline etches

Erik Marstein,(IFE), presentation “Silicon solar cell production”, 2015

E. Vazsonyia, K. De Clercqb, R. Einhasub, E. Van


K. Kim, S. K. Dhungel, S. Jung, and Mangalaraj. D, Kerschaverb, K. Saidb, J. Poortmansb, J. Szlufcikb,
Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 92 (8), 960 and J. Nijsb, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
(2008). 57 (2), 179 (1999).

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Solar cell processing


- Emitter diffusion and gettering, glass removal

• Most common is gas diffusion from POCl3


– But other techniques are also possible
• Wafers are heated to 900 ˚C
– A amorphous glass layer is formed which is removed by HF

Erik Marstein,(IFE), presentation “Silicon solar cell production”, 2015

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Solar cell processing


- Anti-reflection coating

• A textured wafer still reflects to much light


– A anti-reflection coating is needed
• Typically silicon nitride deposited by plasma
enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD)
– High Hydrogen concentration during the deposition
• Hydrogen impurities diffuses into the material
– Good thing  Passivation of dangling bonds and defects

Erik Marstein,(IFE), presentation “Silicon solar cell production”, 2015

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Solar cell processing


- Contact formation

• Metal contacts on both sides by screen printing


– Silver busbars on front, Al contact covering the backside
• Low temperature drying (200 ˚C)

Yuguo Tao (2016). Screen‐Printed Front


Junction n‐Type Silicon Solar Cells, Printed
Electronics - Current Trends and Applications

Erik Marstein,(IFE), presentation “Silicon solar cell production”, 2015

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Solar cell efficiency, η=Pcell/Psolar


• Theoretical limit given by band gap, Si=32%
• Reflection
• Shading by front contact
• Recombination (impurities, structural defects)
Si band gap: 1130 nm

• Radiation with long λ will not


excite electron

• Radiation with short λ will


excite only one electron, rest
is lost as heat

• Typical η 15-25%

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Solar cell efficiency, experimental cells

NREL, Efficiency chart, January 2018

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Summary
• PV energy fast increase
– Significant part of Si industry
• Solar energy
– Peak 1000 W/ m 2
– Average 150 W/ m 2
• Photovoltaic effect
– Bandgap
– p/n junction
• Solar cell processing
– Etching
– Texturing
– Emitter
– Anti-reflection coating
– Contact

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Summary

• Solar cell efficiency


– Theoretical, limited by band gap, for Si: 32%
– Reflection
– Shading
– Recombination, impurities, structure

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