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Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124

Optimum two-dimensional short circuit collection

eciency in thin multicrystalline silicon solar cells

with optical connement

A.S. Al-Omar*, M.Y. Ghannam

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Kuwait University, P.O. Box 5969, 13060 Safat, Kuwait

Received 21 January 1997; received in revised form 7 October 1997

Abstract

The two-dimensional short-circuit AM1.5 collection eciency is studied in thin multicrystal-

line silicon solar cells with optical connement. The collection eciency is calculated by linking

an optical analytical generation prole with the two-dimensional collection probability in pn

junction solar cells. The calculations are carried out for variable grain boundary recombination

velocity, cell thickness, grain width, diusion length, and back surface recombination velocity.

The role of optical connement leading to a strong dependence of the collection eciency on

the cell thickness in very thin cells is conrmed. The optimum cell thickness for maximum

collection eciency increases in cells with low back reection or poor back surface passivation.

Also, the optimum thickness in very thin cells increases signicantly with increasing the

diusion length. It is also found that the eect of grain boundary recombination is predominant

if the cell thickness is larger than the diusion length and if the diusion length is larger than

half the grain width, especially, in cells with unpassivated grain boundaries. On the other hand,

back surface recombination dominates the response in cells with unpassivated back surface if

the thickness is smaller than or comparable to the diusion length. 1998 Elsevier Science

B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Short circuit collection; Eciency; Silicon solar cells

0927-0248/98/$19.00 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved

PII S 0 9 2 7 - 0 2 4 8 ( 9 7 ) 0 0 2 7 5 - 4

1. Introduction

There has been a growing commercial interest in thin multicrystalline Si solar cells

[1]. Solar cell thickness aects the following energy conversion eciency-loss mecha-

nisms: (1) voltage factor, (2) ll factor (FF), and (3) collection eciency. The voltage

factor increases in thinner cells due to increased open-circuit voltage from reduced

Auger recombination [2]. Degraded collection eciency and light trapping in thin

solar cells result in smaller short-circuit current (J

'

), which reduces its overall

eciency. Recombination at grain boundaries produces further reduction in the

collection eciency of thin multicrystalline solar cells. In these cells, higher eciencies

are achieved through eective light-trapping [3], bulk passivation, grain boundary

passivation, and both back and front surface passivation. With the exception of light

trapping; all previous passivation techniques are aliated with the enhancement of

carrier collection produced by reduced bulk recombination or surface recombination.

The magnitude of the last recombination mechanisms have a profound eect on the

collection eciency in thin multicrystalline solar cells; especially, grain boundary and

surface recombination.

Recently, it has been shown that the collection probability, f

fraction of those carriers generated at a point (x, y) that are collected in the external

circuit [410] is governed by the same equations governing the excess dark minority

carriers. The two-dimensional collection eciency has been calculated from the

collection probability and used to study the impact of the grain size and of grain

boundary recombination on the short-circuit performance of thick polycrystalline

silicon (poly-Si) pn junction solar cells [9].

In the present paper, a similar procedure is carried out for thin poly-Si pn-junction

solar cells with optical connement. The spectral response, the AM1.5 collection

eciency, and the short-circuit current are determined from spatial numerical integra-

tion of the collection probability f

throughout the cell. The advantage of the method used here is twofold: (1) solar-cell

characteristics are determined by numerical integration, which is more accurate than

numerical dierentiation of nite-dierence calculation as usually done for the deter-

mination of the current, and (2) calculation of collection probability density is

decoupled from position dependent carrier generation rate g(x), which removes short

wavelength convergence problems. Optical connement obtained by light trapping is

essential in thin cells to maintain a relatively high eciency [11,12]. Light trapping,

usually studied with ray tracing methods [1315], is a computationally intensive task.

The analytical approximation for the optical generation rate introduced by Basore

[16] and extended by Brendel [12] to account for the absorption in the emitter and

for light trapping is adopted in this work. This model applies to a cell having a front

surface covered with innitesimally small grooves and a diused back reector and is

introduced in the present analysis through a back surface reectivity (R

'

) and

a surface roughness parameter ().

108 A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124

Fig. 1. Schematic representation of a perfectly columnar grain PN junction poly-crystalline silicon solar

cell. In the blowup an isolated single grain cell is sketched. Due to the symmetry around the central axis

only half of the cell is analyzed.

2. Summary of methodology

2.1. Transport model

The model detailed in Ref. [9] is summarized here for convenience. The

two dimensional carrier collection probability density f

(x, y) is to be determined

at any point (x, y) inside an ideal pn junction solar cell at low-level injection

[17] which is adequate for one sun illumination. As shown in Fig. 1, the cell is

divided into three regions: (1) an active (neutral) n> emitter region, (2) a depletion

region, and (3) an active (neutral) p base region. Light generates minority carriers in

the three regions. In the depletion region a 100% collection probability is attained.

Therefore,

f

"1 for x

"

)x)x

and !

2

)y)

2

, (1)

where x

"

is the edge of the depletion region in the active n> emitter region and x

is

the edge of the depletion region in the active p base region. The two-dimensional

partial dierential equation for the collection probability in the n> emitter region is

given by

`f

"

f

, (2a)

A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124 109

where

is the minority carrier (hole) diusion length. The solution of Eq. (2a) is

subject to the boundary conditions

f

"1 at x"x

"

,

jf

jx

"

S

'

D

2

,

jf

jy

"!

S

at y"

2

,

jf

jy

"0 at y"0,

(2b)

where S

'

is the recombination velocity at the front surface, S

is the recombination

velocity at the vertical edge boundaries, and D

coecient in the emitter region. Note that Eqs. (2a) and (2b) for the collection

probability is similar to the steady-state continuity equation of excess minority carrier

concentration in Refs. [710]. The collection probability is unity at the depletion

region edge, and follows the same boundary conditions as that for excess minority

carriers at other boundaries. The analysis is made simpler by assuming constant

eective surface recombination velocities, S [18,19], which is assumed to be identical

at dark and under illumination. The boundary condition at y"0 results from the

symmetry around the central vertical axis.

Similarly, the two-dimensional partial dierential equation of the collection prob-

ability in the p base region is given by

`f

"

f

`

"

, (3a)

where

"

is the minority carrier (electron) diusion length. In this case, the boundary

conditions are

f

"1 at x"x

,

jf

jx

"!

S

'

D

"

f

at x"H,

jf

jy

"!

S

D

"

f

at y"

2

,

jf

*y

"0 at y"0,

(3b)

where S

'

is the recombination velocity at the back surface and D

"

is the minority

electron diusion coecient in the base. The boundary condition at y"0 results from

the symmetry around the central vertical axis.

110 A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124

The collection probability in the entire solar cell is determined by combining

condition, (1) with the separate numerical solutions of the sets of Eq. (2a) and Eq. (3b).

Such numerical solutions are carried out using the nite-dierence approximation

on uniform rectangular grids [20,21] in each region. As a result of symmetry

around the central vertical axis, the calculations are performed for only one-half of

the cell.

2.2. Optical model

The optical generation model used here follows a carrier generation prole g(x, )

given by [12]

g(x, )"g

(x)#R

'

()

cos

`

exp

!

()(H!x)

cos

`

#R

'

R

'

`

;

()

cos

L

exp(!()x/cos

L

)#

L

R

'L

exp(![()(H!x)]/cos

L

)

1!R

'L

R

'L

`

L

,

(8)

where

g

(x, )"

(1!R

'

)

()

cos

exp

!

()x

cos

, 0)x)x

()

cos

exp

!

()x

cos

!

()(x!x

)

cos

, x

)x )H,

where x

is the edge of the depletion region on the base side, H is the total cell

thickness, R

'

is the front surface reectance, is the angle at which light is transmitted

through the emitter,

the rst pass,

`

for the second pass,

L

for the nth pass, R

'

is the back surface

reectance for the rst pass, R

'L

for the nth pass, R

'

is the rst internal front surface

reection, R

'L

is the nth internal front surface reection. The transmittance of the rst

pass

is given by

"exp

!x

cos

!

(H!x

)

cos

, (9)

and the nth pass diuse light transmittance factor

L

is given by

L

"exp

!H

cos

L

"2

`

"

sin cos exp

!

H

cos

d. (10)

The second pass transmittance factor

`

is given by

`

"exp

!H

cos

`

"

L

#(1!)

`'

, (11)

A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124 111

where is the surface roughness parameter.

`

represents an average of the diuse

transmittance and the specularly reected light transmittance

`'

given by

`'

"exp

!H

cos

(12)

2.3. Internal spectral response and collection eciency

The averaged internal spectral response [5,6], (), corresponding to a photo-

generation rate g(x, ) (that may take light connement into account) is given by

()"

2

5`

"

&

"

f

where the front and back surfaces dene the integration limits along the x-axis. The

collection probability density f

out the integration in Eq. (13) along the y-axis leading to the averaged response over

the illuminated region.

The average short-circuit collection eciency,

G

, dened as the ratio of the total

collected carrier density to the total generated carrier density in the cell assuming

a unity quantum yield under short circuit condition, is determined from

G

"1()2

^``

"

H`

H

()F

^``

() d

H`

H

F

^``

() d

, (14)

where F

^``

() is the AM1.5 radiation spectrum, the wavelength

`

is set to 1103 nm

which corresponds to the energy band gap of Si, and

contact shadowing was accounted for. The numerator of Eq. (14) represents the

AM1.5 photo-generated (short-circuit) current density per unit electronic charge, J

'

,

while the denominator denotes the AM1.5 photon ux absorbable in Si. Thus, the

short-circuit current is related to the averaged collection eciency

G

by

J

*

"q

G

H`

H

F

^``

() d"58.6

G

mA/cm`. (15)

3. Results

The collection eciency at AM1.5 in thin poly-Si cells with optical connement is

investigated. Optical model parameters are xed at R

'

"20%, R

'

"60%, "0.5,

R

'"

"92.8%, R

''

"62%, which are typical for highly ecient light connement of

Ref. [12]. The grain width

boundary S

solar cells. Other parameters such as the cell thickness H, the minority electron

diusion length in the base

"

, and the back surface recombination velocity S

'

are also

considered. The minority hole diusion length in the emitter

recombination velocity S

'

shape carrier collection in the emitter. The latter has

112 A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124

a weaker dependence on grain boundary recombination than the collection in the

base [9]. Therefore, the last two parameters are assumed to be secondary and are xed

at

"5 m and S

'

"100 cm/s which are typical values for n> emitters of silicon

solar cells with high- quality oxide-passivated surface. Grain boundary recombination

velocities of 100 and 10` cm/s are assumed for well-passivated and unpassivated grain

boundaries, respectively. Back surface recombination velocity of 500 and 10' cm/s are

assumed for well passivated (e.g. back surface eld contact) and metal back contact,

respectively.

3.1. Dependence of collection eciency on substrate thickness and grain width

The AM1.5 collection eciency is calculated according to the model described by

Eq. (13), which includes the combined eect of collection probability and optical

generation, as a function of substrate thickness (H) and grain width (

). The

collection eciency is evaluated for cells with dierent passivation conditions.

3.1.1. Cells with grain boundary passivation and back surface passivation

The AM1.5 collection eciency (

G

) contours in cells with grain boundary passiva-

tion and back surface passivation are plotted in Fig. 2a for an optical back reection

of 60% and Fig. 2b for a zero back reection as a function of substrate thickness (H)

and grain width (

"

) was xed at

50 m.

Fig. 2a shows that the collection eciency contours are almost vertical for lms

thinner than 10 m. Vertical contours indicate that the collection eciency is inde-

pendent of the grain width but is very sensitive to the lm thickness. Thickness

dependence of the collection eciency mainly occurs through high sensitivity to

optical generation or to back surface recombination. In the present case, the back

surface is well passivated and the pronounced eciency degradation for lm thickness

below 10 m is mainly due to the highly reduced optical generation resulting from the

highly attenuated light intensity crossing the cell beyond the second reection.

At a grain width of 100 m (twice the diusion length), the collection eciency

exhibits a peak value slightly larger than 66% at an optimum thickness slightly larger

than 30 m. At this point the collection probability density f

S

'

is small and the thickness is shorter than the diusion length. As the cell thickness

exceeds this optimum thickness, the collection eciency decreases very slowly with

cell thickness and almost saturates once the thickness reaches 100 m. In such

relatively thick cells optical connement has a marginal role, and the behavior of the

collection eciency versus cell thickness is divided into two streams. First, if the cell

thickness is smaller than or comparable to the diusion length, the collection ecien-

cy is mainly controlled by back surface recombination. In the case under study, S

'

is

small which explains the very weak degradation observed in the collection eciency

as the cell thickness exceeds the optimumthickness. Second, in cells much thicker than

the diusion length, the carriers photogenerated at the back surface cannot be

collected which leads to a thickness-independent behavior as observed in cells thicker

than 100 m. For such cells, the role of grain boundary recombination takes over

A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124 113

Fig. 2. (a) The internal AM1.5 collection eciency contours as a function of cell thickness (H) and grain

width (

) for

"

"50 m, passivated grain boundary (S

'

"500 cm/s) with highly ecient light connement: R

'

"20%, R

'

"60%, "0.5, R

'L

"92.8%, and

R

''

"62%. (b) The internal AM1.5 collection eciency contours as a function of cell thickness (H) and

grain width (

) for

"

"50 m, passivated grain boundary (S

(S

'

"500 cm/s) with no light connement: R

'

"20%, R

'

"0%.

leading to horizontal eciency contours. Note that the eciency degradation due to

grain boundary recombination is relatively weak, especially in the range

'

"

because of the small grain boundary recombination velocity assumed in the case

under study (S

"100 cm/s).

In cells without optical connement (R

'

"0), the position of the peak collection

eciency is shifted towards larger thickness as depicted in Fig. 2b. The peak eciency

occurs in this case at a lm thickness of 50 m and its value at a grain width of 100 m

is slightly greater than 63%. The collection eciency contours displayed in Fig. 2b

114 A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124

Fig. 3. The internal AM1.5 collection eciency contours as a function of cell thickness (H) and grain width

(

) for

"

"50 m, unpassivated grain boundary (S

(S

'

"500 cm/s) with highly ecient light connement: R

'

"20%, R

'

"60%, "0.5, R

'L

"92.8%, and

R

''

"62%.

exhibit an abrupt transition from a thickness-dependent behavior (vertical contours)

to a grain-size-dependent behavior (horizontal contours). This indicates that the peak,

if any, is very marginal, which is in agreement with previously reported one-dimen-

sional results for cells with very small back surface recombination velocity [5]. For

a lm thickness of 10 m, the collection eciency for a cell with 60% back reection is

61% compared to 55% for a cell without back reection.

3.1.2. Cells with unpassivated grain boundaries but with back surface passivation

The collection eciency contours for cells with unpassivated grain boundaries and

well-passivated back surface are displayed in Fig. 3 as a function of cell thickness and

grain width. These contours can be identically obtained by vertically shifting the

contours of Fig. 2a upwards. Below a certain critical grain size given by approximately

twice the diusion length, the role of grain boundary recombination is very dominant.

For larger aspect ratios (ratio of grain size to thickness), the collection eciency

becomes mainly dependent on the cell thickness primarily due to the signicant role of

optical generation since in the present case back surface recombination is negligible.

The optimum lm thickness corresponding to the peak collection eciency is 30 m

like in the result of Section 3.1.1 also dealing with cells with back surface recombina-

tion. The value of the peak collection eciency at the critical grain size of 100 m,

however, is only 62.5% compared to 66% for cells with passivated grain boundaries.

3.1.3. Cells with grain boundary passivation and unpassivated back surface

The collection eciency contours for cells with grain boundary passivation and

unpassivated back surface are displayed in Fig. 4 as a function of cell thickness and

grain width. The vertical contours highly dominating the plot for cells thinner than

A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124 115

Fig. 4. The internal AM1.5 collection eciency contours as a function of cell thickness (H) and grain width

(

) for

"

"50 m, passivated grain boundary (S

(S

'

"10' cm/s) with highly ecient light connement: R

'

"20%, R

'

"60%, "0.5, R

'L

"92.8%, and

R

''

"62%.

30 m indicate a strong dependence of the collection eciency on the optical genera-

tion. The corresponding value of the collection eciency is signicantly degraded due

to the very high back surface recombination velocity. This result demonstrates the

importance of back surface passivation for maintaining a relatively high eciency in

thin cells with relatively high-quality bulk material. As the cell thickness exceeds one

diusion length, the inuence of optical connement and back surface recombination

is weakened out leading to a collection eciency almost solely dependent on the grain

width. Due to high back surface recombination, the maximum collection eciency at

the critical grain size of 100 m is smaller than in cells with passivated back surface

(less than 63% compared to 66%), and the optimum cell thickness is shifted towards

larger values exceeding 100 m.

3.1.4. Cells with unpassivated grain boundary and unpassivated back surface

The collection eciency contours for cells with unpassivated grain boundaries and

unpassivated back surface are displayed in Fig. 5 as a function of cell thickness and

grain width. These contours can be understood based on the detailed discussions

presented above and need no more elaboration. Actually, these contours can be

generated by shifting those of Fig. 2a diagonally upwards to the right. At the critical

grain size, the peak collection eciency in the high recombination scheme studied in

this section slightly exceeds 59%.

3.2. Optimum cell thickness and maximum collection eciency

The optimum cell thickness (H

'

) corresponding to the maximum collection e-

ciency

G

is plotted in Fig. 6a together with

G

as a function of grain width (

) for

116 A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124

Fig. 5. The internal AM1.5 collection eciency contours as a function of cell thickness (H) and grain width

(

) for

"

"50 m, unpassivated grain boundary (S

(S

'

"10' cm/s) with highly ecient light connement: R

'

"20%, R

'

"60%, "0.5, R

'L

"92.8%, and

R

''

"62%.

a cell with grain boundary passivation and back surface passivation having a

base diusion length

"

of 50 m, taking the back reection factor R

'

as an in-

dependent parameter. The curves for R

'

"0.6 correspond to the results displayed

in Fig. 2a. Larger back reection leads to a more ecient optical connement,

a shallower generation prole and an enhanced absorption in thin substrates.

Such a reasoning is conrmed in Fig. 6a showing a higher maximum collection

eciency at a smaller cell thickness when the back reection factor is increased. In

general, Fig. 6a indicates that the optimum cell thickness is inversely proportional to

the back reection ratio R

'

while the maximum collection eciency is directly

proportional to R

'

. In practice, plots like those displayed in Fig. 6a can be used to

determine the optimum lm thickness for specic passivation and back reection

schemes assuming that the grain width and bulk diusion length of the resulting lms

are reproducible.

The behaviors displayed in Fig. 6a of the optimum thickness and of the maximum

eciency with respect to the grain width can be divided into two distinct regions. For

wide grains (

'2

"

) grain boundary recombination is less inuential; especially, in

cells with ecient grain boundary passivation. In such a case, the optimum cell

thickness and the maximum collection eciency are almost independent of the grain

width, and the solar cell behaves practically as single crystalline cell. On the other

hand, for narrow grains (

)2

"

), the optimum cell thickness and the maximum

collection eciency are proportional to the grain width

visualized by following the trajectory of the bottoms of the contours in Fig. 2a as the

grain width is reduced below 100 m (2

"

). Since the eciency dependence on grain

A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124 117

width is caused by grain boundary recombination, grain boundary recombination

continues to aect the maximum collection eciency and the optimum thickness in

cells with unpassivated grain boundaries even if the grain width exceeds the 2

"

limit

described above, which is illustrated in Fig. 6b.

118 A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124

"

"50 m, passivated grain

boundary (S

'

"500 cm/s) and dierent back reections ratio R

'

.

The right y-axis is the value of maximuminternal AM1.5 collection eciency at the optimumthickness. The

optical model parameters are: R

'

"20%, "0.5, R

'L

"92.8%, and R

''

"62%. (b) Optimumcell thickness

versus grain width

"

"50 m, R

'

"60%, and dierent passivation schemes: (A) grain

boundary only (S

'

"10' cm/s), (B) neither (S

'

"10' cm/s), (C) grain

boundary and back surface (S

'

"500 cm/s), (D) back surface only (S

S

'

"500 cm/s). The right y-axis is the value of maximum internal AM1.5 collection eciency at the

optimum thickness. The optical model parameters are: R

'

"20%, R

'

"60%, "0.5, R

'L

"92.8%, and

R

''

"62%.

3.3. Dependence of optimum cell thickness on diusion length

3.3.1. Very wide grain (monocrystalline silicon) cells

The optimum cell thickness (H

'

) and the maximum collection eciency

G

of very

wide grain cells with grain boundary passivation simulating monocrystalline silicon

with back surface passivation are plotted in Fig. 7a as a function of the base diusion

length (

"

) for dierent back reection ratios R

'

. The results show that the maximum

collection eciency and the optimum thickness increase with increasing diusion

length. For

"

exceeding 100 m, the maximum collection eciency tends to converge

to an asymptote with weakly dependence on both R

'

and

"

. The calculated values

represent a very good estimate for H

'

and

'

in most practical cases for lms with

a diusion length lying in the range 10100 m. In such cases, the calculated optimum

thickness lies between 5 and 60 m which are typical values for silicon lm techno-

logy.

The theoretical dependencies of H

'

and

G

on the diusion length are generated for

R

'

"60% for cells without back surface passivation and plotted in Fig. 7b together

with the results of Fig. 7a for cells with back surface passivation. As expected,

enhanced back surface recombination leads to degradation of the maximum collec-

tion eciency and to a strong increase in the optimum thickness of the cell. Note that

the continuous inuence of back surface recombination even at very small values of

"

is due to the dependence of the optimum cell thickness on

"

.

3.3.2. Polycrystalline silicon cells with equal grain width and cell thickness

The maximum collection eciency is determined for cells with equal grain width

and lm thickness from the two-dimensional contour tangent to the line representing

the condition

"H

'

. Such a condition is reasonable for thin multicrystalline

silicon lms, where grain widths are similar to thickness. From Fig. 2a, the highest

collection eciency that can be obtained when

"H

'

lies between 65% and 66%

and occurs approximately at

"H

'

"30 m. Such values are checked and con-

rmed at

"

"50 m in Fig. 8 displaying the calculated optimum cell thickness

H

'

(with H"

of the diusion length

"

for polycrystalline silicon cells with grain boundary and

back surface passivation. The results of Fig. 8 are very close to those of Fig. 7a, since

A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124 119

cells with grain boundary passivation behave very similarly to very wide grain cells.

However, at long diusion lengths, the eect of grain boundary recombination is not

totally negligible leading to a smaller maximum collection eciency than that of very

wide grain cells. Furthermore, the optimum cell thickness (H

'

) disappears as

"

exceeds a certain critical value above 100 m. In the last situation, increasing

120 A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124

"

for very wide grain cells

"1 cm

(practically perfect grain boundary passivation or single crystalline cell) with passivated back surface

(S

'

"500 cm/s) and dierent back reections ratio R

'

. The right y-axis is the value of maximum internal

AM1.5 collection eciency at the optimum thickness. The optical model parameters are: R

'

"20%,

"0.5, R

'L

"92.8%, and R

''

"62%. (b) Optimum cell thickness versus base diusion length

"

for very

wide grain cells

"1 cm (practically perfect grain boundary passivation or single crystalline cell) with

(S

'

"500 cm/s) or without (S

'

"10' cm/s) back surface passivation, and R

'

"60%. The right y-axis is the

value of maximum internal AM1.5 collection eciency at the optimum thickness. The optical model

parameters are: R

'

"20%, "0.5, R

'L

"92.8%, and R

''

"62%.

Fig. 8. Optimum grain dimension of equal thickness and width (

"

for passivated grain boundary (S

'

"500 cm/s), and dierent

back reections ratio R

'

. The right y-axis is the value of maximum internal AM1.5 collection eciency at

the optimum dimension. The optical model parameters are: R

'

"20%, "0.5, R

'L

"92.8%, and

R

''

"62%.

"

above this critical value does not produce a curve with maximum

G

at a nite

thickness; maximum eciency occurs at the largest possible cell thickness H. It should

be noticed that collection eciency enhancement through reduction of grain size is

similar with what is observed with porous photochemical cells [22]. There, the eect

of bulk recombination on the collection eciency is minimized in nanostructure

semiconductor with structural units equal to or smaller than twice the diusion length

given that surface recombination is reduced, which is achieved by the aqueous

electrolyte solution interface.

A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124 121

Fig. 9. Optimum cell thickness versus back surface recombination velocity S

'

for very wide grain cells

"1 cm (practically perfect grain boundary passivation or single crystalline cell) with

"

"50 m,

Sb"500 cm/s and dierent back reections ratio R

'

. The right y-axis is the value of maximum internal

AM1.5 collection eciency at the optimum thickness. The optical model parameters are: R

'

"20%,

"0.5, R

'L

"92.8%, and R

''

"62%.

3.4. Dependence of optimum cell thickness and maximum collection eciency on back

surface recombination

The optimum cell thickness and the maximum collection eciency are plotted as

a function of back surface recombination velocity in Fig. 9 for very wide grain

(monocrystalline) cells and in Fig. 10 for grain boundary passivated polycrystalline

cells for which the grain width is equal to the thickness. Cells in both gures had

"

"50 m. Cells with grain boundary passivation are treated in order to emphasize

the eect of back surface recombination. As long as S

'

is smaller than 1000 cm/s its

eect is marginal. On the other hand, when S

'

exceeds 1000 cm/s H

'

increases

drastically with S

'

and saturates for S

'

larger than 10" cm/s. The opposite behavior is

observed for

G

which exhibits a strong decrease in the range 1000(S

'

(10" cm/s

and saturates for larger S

@

values. Such behaviors can be explained by a reduced

collection probability f

at large S

'

values with skewed distribution that requires

a much thicker substrate to obtain the maximum collection eciency. The dierences

between the values of the maximum collection eciency for dierent values of R

'

are

strongly reduced at large S

'

values because the optimum thickness becomes large

enough to minimize the inuence of optical connement.

Although the dierence between the maximum collection eciency and the opti-

mum thickness of monocrystalline cells and of polycrystalline cells is reduced at large

122 A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124

Fig. 10. Optimum grain dimension of equal thickness and width (

tion velocity S

'

for

L

"50 m, passivated grain boundary (S

ratio R

'

. The right y-axis is the value of maximum internal AM1.5 collection eciency at the optimum

dimension. The optical model parameters are: R

'

"20%, "0.5, R

'L

"92.8%, and R

''

"62%.

values of S

'

, a smaller maximum collection eciency and a larger optimum thickness,

resulting from the two-dimensional distribution of the collection probability, charac-

terize the polycrystalline cells (even with grain boundary passivation), as deduced by

comparing Figs. 9 and 10. It should be noted that since the thickness is varying in cells

of both gures, relative signicance of back surface recombination should be nor-

malized to D

"

/H. The last statement was transparent in both gures, where large

surface recombination velocity eects occurred for S

'

'D

"

/H.

4. Conclusions

For thin poly-Si solar cells with eective back surface passivation and optical

connement the optimum cell thickness is strongly dependent on the back reection,

diusion length, and back surface recombination velocity. Higher back reection

R

'

results in smaller optimum thickness and larger collection eciencies

G

. The

maximum collection eciency and the optimum thickness increase with increasing

the diusion length. The former saturates for

"

above 100 m while the latter has to

be determined from its value at the border value of

"

"100 m. Small back surface

recombination velocity below 1000 cm/s practically has no eect on optimum cell

A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124 123

thickness and on the maximum collection eciency. Larger back surface recombina-

tion velocities ('D

"

/H) signicantly increase the optimum thickness and reduce the

maximum collection eciency. An optimum grain size of one diusion length is

recommended for cells with passivated grain boundaries and a size larger than twice

the diusion length is necessary if the grain boundaries are not passivated.

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by Kuwait University research Grants EE-048 and

EE-079.

References

[1] J. Szulfcik, S. Sivoththaman, J.F. Nijs, R.P. Mertens, R.V. Overstraeten, Proc. IEEE 85 (1997) 711.

[2] M.A. Green, IEEE Trans. Electron Dev. ED-31 (1984) 671.

[3] P. Campell, M.A. Green, IEEE Trans. Electron. Dev. ED- 33 (1986) 234.

[4] W.v. Roosbroeck, J. Appl. Phys. 26 (1995) 380.

[5] H. Hovel, Solar cells, in: R.K. Willardson, A.C. Beer (Eds.), Semiconductors and Semimetals, vol. 11,

Academic Press, New York, 1975, p. 105.

[6] M.A. Green, Solar Cells: Operating Principles, Technology, and System Applications, Prentice-Hall,

Englewood Clis, NJ, 1982.

[7] C. Donolato, Appl. Phys. Lett. 46 (1985) 270.

[8] K. Misiakos, F.A. Lindholm, J. Appl. Phys. 58 (1985) 4743.

[9] A. Al-Omar, M. Ghannam, J. Appl. Phys. 79 (15) (1996) 2103.

[10] A.H. Markvart, IEEE Trans. Electron. Dev. 43 (1996) 1034.

[11] J.A. Rand, P.A. Basore, Light-trapping silicon solar cells: experimental results and analysis, Presented

at 22nd IEEE PVSC, New York, 1991.

[12] R. Brendel, M. Hirsch, R. Plieninger, J.H. Werner, Experimental analysis of quantum eciency for

thin layer silicon solar cells with back surface elds and light trapping schemes, Presented at 13th

European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference, Nice, 1995.

[13] P. Campell, M.A. Green, J. Appl. Phys. 62 (1987) 243.

[14] A.W. Smith, A. Rohatgi, Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 29 (1993) 37.

[15] R. Brendel, Progr. Photovoltaics: Res. Appl. 3 (1995) 25.

[16] P.A. Basore, Extended spectral analysis of internal quantum eciency, presented at 23rd IEEE

Photovoltaic Specialist Conference, New York, 1993.

[17] W. Shockley, Bell Syst. Tech. J. 28 (1949) 435.

[18] R.A. Smith, Semiconductors, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1978.

[19] P.D. Visschere, Solid-State Electron. 29 (1986) 1161.

[20] W.F. Ames, Numerical Methods for Partial Dierential Equations, 2nd ed., Academic Press, New

York, 1977.

[21] S. Selberherr, Analysis and Simulation of Semiconductor Devices, Springer-Verlag, Wien, 1984.

[22] B.H. Erne , D. Vanmaekelbergh, J.J. Kelly, Adv. Mater. 7 (1995) 739.

124 A.S. Al-Omar, M.Y. Ghannam/Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells 52 (1998) 107124

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